Bennet, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Help Renters During Coronavirus Pandemic

Bill Would Authorize $100 Billion for an Emergency Rental Assistance Program to Help Renters Stay in Their Homes During and After the Crisis

Denver — Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and 25 of his Democratic colleagues announced the Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act of 2020, new legislation to establish an Emergency Rental Assistance program to provide $100 billion in emergency rental assistance to help families and individuals pay their rent and stay in their homes during and after the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis. Stabilizing renters and the rental market through this crisis will help the economy recover from the economic aftershock of the pandemic. 

“We cannot stand by and allow this public health and economic crisis to turn into an eviction crisis at the worst possible time for families, landlords, and communities,” said Bennet. “This legislation is essential to help struggling families stay in their homes and avoid a situation where they are doubling-up with friends or ending up in shelters during a once-in-a-century public health crisis.” 

Specifically, the bill would: 

  • Authorize $100 billion for an Emergency Rental Assistance program to help families and individuals pay their rent and utility bills and remain housed during and after the COVID-19 crisis.
  • The program would send funds to communities, states, and tribes through an existing federal temporary rental assistance program to facilitate the rapid distribution of funds through an already-available administrative and reporting system. 

In addition to Bennet, the legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jeffrey A. Merkley (D-Ore.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Cory A. Booker (D-N.J.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.).  

The bill text is available HERE. A factsheet is available HERE.   

The bill has been endorsed by a diverse list of housing, state and local government, child advocacy, faith, health care, women’s, civil rights, disability rights, and social welfare organizations. These groups include the National Alliance to End Homelessness, National Low Income Housing Coalition, Children's Defense Fund, U.S. Conference of Mayors, National Association of Counties, National Urban League, and National League of Cities.

“Even before the coronavirus, 11 million renters – including 8 million of America’s lowest-income seniors, people with disabilities, low-wage workers and other individuals – were paying at least half of their limited incomes to keep a roof over their heads, leaving them one financial crisis away from eviction and, in worst cases, homelessness. For many, this pandemic is that financial crisis,” stated Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “Congress should be doing everything they can to keep people stably housed during and after this public health emergency by implementing a national moratorium on evictions and providing at least $100 billion in rental assistance.”  

“Given the health and economic tsunami the COVID pandemic represents for low income and minority Americans, this rental assistance bill is essential,” stated Nan Roman, President, National Alliance to End Homelessness. “Without it, many who were living on the edge prior to the pandemic will fall into homelessness as eviction moratoria and emergency financial assistance disappear.  The National Alliance to End Homelessness fully supports this initiative to stave off a massive post-pandemic increase in homelessness.”    

“We know that eviction is a cause, not just a consequence, of poverty,” said Matthew Desmond, Maurice P. During Professor of Sociology Princeton University and Principal Investigator of the Eviction Lab.  “Permitting millions of renters to be evicted during this crisis would only deepen the struggle to recover from the health and economic consequences of the coronavirus.  I strongly support the Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act, which will provide the rental assistance that families and individuals need to interrupt this vicious cycle.”