Economy May 5, 2020 | 3:36 pm

Dominican-born lawmaker calls for NYC rent relief now

Press Release

Introduces Parallel Proposal to Provide Targeted Relief for Back Rent

NEW YORK, NY – Today, Representative Adriano Espaillat (NY-13) released the following statement in support of the bicameral Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act of 2020, which follows on his efforts to ensure robust emergency rental assistance is included in a forthcoming COVID-19 relief package.

“These are unprecedented times as millions of residents around the country face tremendous hardships amid the ongoing public health emergency and global crisis due to COVID-19. Rent is past due for millions of Americans and families, and families, especially the lowest-income families, cannot afford to pay monthly rent. It is clearer than ever that housing is part of our overall health as a society and nation,” said Rep. Adriano Espaillat (NY-13). “With historic business closures and economic challenges that individuals face due to job loss, residents are having to make the difficult decision of feeding their families or paying their rent amid this crisis. Even with various restrictions on eviction in place, at some point renters will need to pay arrears despite having been out of work. This crisis on the horizon demands that we act now to protect individuals and families and ensure emergency funding for rental assistance is included in our continuing efforts to help our nation recover from this truly monumental moment in our history.

“Emergency rental assistance will not only keep the lowest-income families stably housed, but it will help curb the spread of COVID-19 and ultimately help save lives. I am proud to join Senator Sherrod Brown and my House colleagues, Reps. Denny Heck and Maxine Waters as a cosponsor to provide $100 Billion in emergency rental assistance to stably house America’s renters,” he concluded.

The legislation would provide $100 billion in resources for emergency assistance to renters. This funding would be provided directly to state and local governments in order to give households short- and medium-term rental assistance up to 24 months going forward, or up to six months of rental arrears. The funding would be focused toward low- and moderate-income earners.

Last month, Rep. Espaillat (NY-13) joined by Rep. Jesús G. “Chuy” García (IL-04) led 49 of their colleagues on a letter calling for House and Senate leadership to include $100 billion for emergency rental assistance in the next emergency stimulus package to help people stay in their homes. A comparable provision was included in the COVID-19 stimulus bill drafted by the House, but it did not make it into the final CARES Act.

Additionally, today, Reps. Espaillat and García introduced parallel legislation that would provide for $25 billion in assistance to low- and moderate-income families to pay their back rent. While a number of states and cities have imposed eviction moratoriums to allow tenants flexibility, the rent they owe continues to accrue. The “Subsidizing Tenant Arrears Yet Helping Owners with Mortgages Emergency (STAY HOME) Act” would help tenants avoid eviction by providing a payment for their back rent directly to their landlord, while protecting against any adverse impact to their credit report.

“No one should worry about losing their home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While public health officials urge us to stay home to stop the spread of the virus, my constituents in Chicago are worried about losing their homes as unemployment reaches record highs and back-rent piles up. As always, working class people, people of color and immigrants are suffering disproportionately. The need to keep people in their homes is greater than ever, and Congress must act now to provide emergency rental assistance,” said Congressman Jesús G. “Chuy” García. “We have to ensure that families don’t face eviction and homelessness in the midst of this pandemic.”

Ten million people filed for unemployment in the last weeks of March– an increase of  3,000% over filings at the beginning of the month. The National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates that $100 billion in rental assistance is necessary to avoid the devastation of affordable housing infrastructure in our communities as eviction moratoriums are lifted at the end of this crisis and back-rent is due.

The letter led by Reps. Espaillat and Garcia has been endorsed by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH).