Senators reintroduce bipartisan legislation to tackle housing crisis

Ohio

FILE – This Monday, Jan. 8, 2017, file photo shows a “For Rent” sign outside an apartment building in Sacramento, Calif. California Gov. Gavin Newsom reached a deal with apartment owners and developers Friday, Aug. 30, 2019, on legislation that would cap how rapidly rents can rise as the state grapples with a housing crisis. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

WASHINGTON, (WOWK)  — U.S. Senators are reintroducing legislation to address the national housing crisis.

The Eviction Crisis Act of 2021 is designed to identify the causes of the eviction crisis, reduce preventable evictions, and limit the devastation to families when eviction is unavoidable. 

This bipartisan legislation is backed by U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) and Todd Young (R-Indiana).

“Home is the foundation of the rest of our lives: our family connections, our education, our work, and our health. The shortage of affordable housing and evictions tear at that foundation. And as we learned during the pandemic, the lack of a safe, stable home can even mean the difference between life and death. The Eviction Crisis Act will give our communities new tools to prevent evictions and support vulnerable households,” said Brown, Chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

“Stable housing is a vital part of getting people back on their feet. I’ve long worked on efforts to address homelessness and increase the supply of housing and I’m proud to partner with Senator Bennet on this bipartisan initiative. After dealing with extraordinary job losses throughout the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear that legislation that can help prevent avoidable evictions and reduce homelessness is more important than ever,” said Portman.

According to the legislation, the Eviction Crisis Act of 2021 will:

  • Improve Data and Analysis on Evictions
    • to create a national database to standardize data and track evictions to inform policy decisions better.
    • to establish a Federal Advisory Committee on Eviction Research for data collection and recommend policies and practices to prevent evictions or mitigate their consequences.
    • to approve funding for a thorough study that would track evictions, analyze landlord-tenant laws, and assess factors in urban, suburban, and rural areas.
  • Reduce Preventable Evictions and Mitigate Eviction-Related Consequences
    • to co-invest in state and local government programs:
      • to create a program to fund state and local governments to expand the use of landlord-tenant community courts and increase social services representatives’ presence for tenants, which helps both tenants and landlords avoid the high cost of eviction.
      • to establish a new permanent Emergency Assistance Program to provide financial assistance and housing stability-related services to eviction-vulnerable tenants.
    • to support increased legal representation for tenants:
      • to express support for largely increased funding for the Legal Services Corporation, a public-private partnership that provides legal services to low-income Americans.
  • Improve Information on Tenant Screening Reports
    • to require consumer reporting agencies to provide consumers with tenant screening reports when requested as part of a rental application process.
    • when a court rules favor a tenant in an eviction proceeding, this bill requires those judgments and eviction filings related to that proceeding to be removed from tenant screening reports.

“Time and again I’ve heard from Coloradans about how one single event—an unexpected illness, a car accident, or a family emergency—can lead to their lives falling apart. Too often, these unavoidable circumstances can result in a family being evicted from their home and falling into a cycle of poverty that lasts for years,” said Bennet. “The COVID-19 pandemic only worsened this deep national crisis. The hardship caused by eviction is agonizing for the millions of American families evicted every year, and it’s past time for us to invest in comprehensive solutions to prevent avoidable evictions.”

“Evictions start with the loss of a home and often end with job loss, depression, and becoming further ingrained in the cycle of poverty. Indiana is home to three cities with some of the highest eviction rates in the United States and this legislation takes a number of important steps to work with and support tenants, landlords, and municipalities to help avoid the process of putting another family on the street,” said Young.

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