“Today in America, an unexpected illness, a car accident, or a family emergency can lead to a family being evicted from their home and falling into a cycle of poverty that lasts for years. The hardship caused by eviction is agonizing for the hundreds of thousands of American families evicted every year – and it’s damaging to our communities. As a former school superintendent, I saw kids unable to stay awake in class because they didn’t have a stable place to sleep the night before. And I’ve heard from many hard-working Coloradans about how one misstep led to their lives falling apart. Our Eviction Crisis Act will put in place bipartisan measures that both prevent eviction and limit the harm when it is unavoidable.” 

- Senator Michael Bennet

U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio)’s Eviction Crisis Act is a major proposal to address the national housing crisis crippling millions of Americans who are struggling to rise into the middle class. The legislation will shed light on the root causes of the eviction crisis, reduce preventable evictions, and limit the devastation to families when eviction is unavoidable.

BACKGROUND

In 2016, according to the best available data, 2.3 million eviction filings were made in courthouses across the United States—a rate of four every minute. That same year, one in 50 renters was evicted from his or her home.

In Colorado, five cities ranked in the nation’s 100 “Top Evicting Areas” by eviction rate in 2016 (i.e. the number of evictions per 100 renters): Aurora (ranked #33, with a 5.52% eviction rate), Thornton (#48, 4.64%), Colorado Springs (#64, 4.19%), Westminster (#93, 3.16%), and Lakewood (#94, 3.15%). In Denver eviction cases, 90% of landlords are represented by lawyers, compared to just 2% of tenants—consistent with nationwide trends.

This eviction crisis is driven by a national housing affordability crisis that is particularly acute for low-income renters. Since 1960, median rents have risen 61 percent, adjusted for inflation. Nationwide, America faces a shortage of 7.2 million affordable rental units for low-income households. Nearly 40 million households are “cost-burdened,” spending more than 30% of their income on housing, including 18 million households that pay more than half of their income toward the rent or the mortgage. For these Americans, even small unexpected financial events can threaten their housing stability and result in an eviction. An eviction can then be a scarlet letter, as individuals with a prior eviction can struggle to find new housing, leading to homelessness. One study found that 47 percent of all families in New York City homeless shelters were there as a result of eviction.

This housing affordability and stability crisis has crippled families’ economic security, led to the immense hardship of eviction for countless families, and placed enormous costs on the nation’s health care system, courts, schools, and local governments.

Eviction Crisis Act Summary

  • Improve Data and Analysis on Evictions
    • Creates a national database to standardize data and track evictions, in order to better inform policy decisions.
    • Establishes a Federal Advisory Committee on Eviction Research to make recommendations related to data collection, as well as policies and practices that can prevent evictions or mitigate their consequences.
    • Authorizes funding for a comprehensive study to track evictions, analyze landlord-tenant law, and assess varying factors in urban, suburban, and rural areas.
    Return to Top
  • Reduce Preventable Evictions and Mitigate Eviction-Related Consequences

    Co-invest in state and local government programs:

    • Creates a program to fund state and local governments, expanding the use of landlord-tenant community courts and increasing the presence of social services representatives for tenants, which help both tenants and landlords avoid the high cost of eviction.
    • Establishes an Emergency Assistance Fund to provide short-term financial assistance and housing stability-related services to eviction-vulnerable tenants.

    Support increased legal representation for tenants:

    • Expresses support for substantially increasing funding for the Legal Services Corporation, a public-private partnership that provides legal services to low-income Americans.
    Return to Top
  • Improve Information on Tenant Screening Reports
    • Requires consumer reporting agencies to provide consumers with tenant screening reports when they are requested as part of a rental application process, so tenants can contest and correct inaccurate or incomplete information.
    • When a court rules in favor of a tenant in an eviction proceeding, requires those judgments and eviction filings related to that proceeding to be removed from tenant screening reports.
    Return to Top

Support for the Eviction Crisis Act

  • National Supporting Organizations

    The following national organizations have endorsed the Eviction Crisis Act: Caracole, Children's HealthWatch/Boston Medical Center, Coalition on Human Needs, Community of Hope, Community Stabilization Project, Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Housing Task Force, Crossroads Safehouse, Family Promise, First Focus Campaign for Children, Food Research & Action Center, Funders Together to End Homelessness, Habitat for Humanity International, Housing on Merit, JustLeadershipUSA, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), Mayors and CEOs for US Housing Investment, Metropolitan Tenants Organization, NAACP, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Alliance to End Homelessness, National Association for County Community and Economic Developments, National Association of Community Health Centers, National Association of Local Housing Finance Agencies, National Association of Social Workers, National Church Residences, National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, National Coalition for the Homeless, National Coalition for the Homeless, National Community Action Partnership, National Education Association, National Health Care for the Homeless Council, National Housing Law Project, National Housing Trust, National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, National League of Cities, National Legal Aid & Defender Association, National Low-Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), National NeighborWorks Association, National Nurse-Led Care Consortium, National Resources Defense Council, National Women's Law Center, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Opportunity Starts at Home Campaign, Prosperity Now, RESULTS, The Arc, The Denver Foundation, Unity Health Care, and ZERO TO THREE.

    Return to Top
  • State and Local Supporting Organizations
    The following state and local organizations have endorsed the Eviction Crisis Act: Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance, Coalition on Homelessness & Housing in Ohio, Colorado Center on Law and Policy, Greater Syracuse Tenants Network, Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver, Housing Action Illinois, Legal Aid Association of California (LAAC), Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, and Utah Housing Coalition. Return to Top
  • Statements of Support

    “Eviction isn’t just a consequence of poverty; it’s a cause of poverty. Yet we allow millions of Americans to face the threat of eviction each year. Families with children are at particularly high risk of eviction. Many evicted families lose their home and possessions, often falling into homelessness. Research shows that eviction thwarts economic mobility and is linked to long-term negative health outcomes. Passing the Eviction Crisis Act would be a big step forward, deepening our understanding of the problem and preventing families from the devastating consequences of displacement. Everyone needs a safe and affordable home. I commend Senators Bennet and Portman for their efforts and look forward to working with them to pass this bill into law,” – Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

     

    “Improving housing stability is not just about keeping people in their homes, but it’s also about providing them with the foundation they need for success in many other areas of life. Stable, affordable homes are linked with better educational outcomes, better health outcomes across the lifespan, greater food security, upward economic mobility, and reduced costs to the taxpayer.” – Mike Koprowski, National Director of the Opportunity Starts at Home Campaign

     

    “I applaud Senators Michael Bennet and Rob Portman for their leadership in introducing legislation to create new tools to help end America’s ongoing eviction epidemic, which most severely impacts the lowest-income seniors, people with disabilities, families with children, and other individuals. If enacted, the “Eviction Crisis Act” would create a new Emergency Housing Assistance Fund – a policy solution developed and advanced by NLIHC’s Opportunity Starts at Home campaign – to extend an emergency cushion to families in crisis. Together [with the legislation’s new data collection and outreach initiatives], the bill would help low-income renters avert the downward spiral of housing instability and homelessness. I urge Congress to quickly pass this bill.” – Diane Yentel, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition

     

    “As an educator who has taught at a homeless shelter, I know—as do National Education Association members across the nation—how important it is for children to have a home of their own. Home is a child’s universe. Students in stable homes are able to concentrate better, and without the burden of adult worries, they are free to learn, be curious about the world, and dream. Educators want all students to have that experience, and that’s why NEA members applaud Senators Bennet and Portman for introducing the Eviction Crisis Act, which will help families facing desperate circumstances.” – Lily Eskelsen Garcia, President of the National Education Association

     

    “The Emergency Assistance Fund will not only keep families stable in their homes, but will also promote health. For many of my patient’s families, a housing crisis that threatens their health and well-being is one missed paycheck or one unexpected expense away. This bill is an innovative solution for ensuring that families are protected from economic shocks and the children and their families are able to remain healthy in their homes.” – Dr. Megan Sandel, Co-Lead Principal Investigator for Children’s HealthWatch and pediatrician at Boston Medical Center

     

    “Every day, people become homeless who not long ago had a stable home, but whose lives and housing were disrupted by an economic crisis that a small amount of money could have fixed. Thanks to Senators Bennet and Portman for this legislation that would make such help available, preventing housing instability and homelessness and improving the lives of struggling Americans.” – Nan Roman, President and CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness

     

    “The Eviction Crisis Act is an historic response our country’s eviction epidemic. Through comprehensive data collection and emergency rental assistance, the bill will combat the devastating impacts of evictions on families and children and create a foundation for more effective prevention in the future. We are grateful to Senators Bennet and Portman for addressing this crucial area of U.S. housing policy and working to save families from eviction and homelessness.” – Shamus Roller, Executive Director, National Housing Law Project

     

    “America’s cities, towns, and villages are on the front lines of the affordable housing crisis, and local leaders are eager to support bold solutions like the Eviction Crisis Act of 2019. This legislation would give local governments an opportunity to address a host of social and economic challenges at the root level, including by providing grants to mitigate housing instability and limit costly evictions. The National League of Cities commends Senators Bennet and Portman for introducing this bill; and for their ongoing bipartisan leadership, which is so sorely needed today.” – Clarence E. Anthony, CEO and Executive Director of the National League of Cities   

     

    “Eviction from one’s home is a horrible trauma from the decimation of a family’s shelter to the destruction of its financial security. The NAACP salutes and supports the efforts of Senators Bennet and Portman to thoughtfully and effectively address this serious, and sadly continuing, problem. The provisions of this legislation which create an Emergency Assistance Fund to help extremely low income American families facing eviction is an incredibly important tool in our arsenal to fight the scourge of homelessness. The Emergency Assistance Fund, as envisioned by this legislation, is perhaps one of the best examples of a ‘safety net’ that I can think of that the government can, and should, pursue for all Americans during the hardest economic times in their lives.” – Hilary O. Shelton, Director of the NAACP Washington Bureau and Senior Vice President for Policy and Advocacy

     

    “As providers of health care to more than 28 million low-income Americans, Community Health Centers know very well the close link between housing instability and poor health. For this reason, we strongly support the inclusion of an Emergency Assistance Fund in the Eviction Crisis Act, and we applaud Senators Bennet and Portman for their leadership in introducing this vital legislation.” – Tom Van Coverden, President and CEO of the National Association of Community Health Centers

     

    "JustLeadershipUSA joined the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign because we know how crucial it is for people and communities that have been impacted by the criminal legal system to have real access to safe, affordable housing. It's just as crucial to ensure that people who need help maintaining that housing can get the help they need. The Emergency Assistance Fund contained in the Eviction Crisis Act of 2019 goes a long way toward providing that sense of security and stability, and it does so without leaving anyone out or excluding anyone from the support it offers. This is crucial - the issues we're fighting for transcend any one area and speak to the larger cause of economic and racial justice. We can only achieve those goals if the reforms we pass to get there help everyone and protect everyone's access to basic human needs such as housing.” – DeAnna Hoskins, President and CEO of JustLeadershipUSA

     

    “On behalf of the members of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), the nation’s largest professional social work organization, I want to offer my full support for the passage of the Eviction Crisis Act. I also thank Senators Bennet and Portman for joining in a bipartisan collaboration to address one of the country’s most important social problems.  Social workers, as direct providers of services to indigent and low-income families, are all too aware of how financial distress can create a housing crisis which often leads to homelessness. The Emergency Assistance Fund will help state and local governments to develop innovative programs that will lead to housing stability for low-income families.  You can be assured that NASW will join with other Opportunities Start at Home partners to help get this bill passed.”– Dr. Angelo McClain, CEO of the National Association of Social Workers

     

    “Too often, families on the verge of eviction are simultaneously struggling with hunger. The Emergency Assistance Fund will not only keep a family housed, but also increase a family’s food security by stabilizing the situation and avoiding the multiple harms to nutrition, health and well-being emanating from an eviction. No one should be faced with choosing between, much less experiencing, a cascading loss of, housing, food, and other basic necessities.” – Jim Weill, President of the Food Research & Action Center

     

    "Advocates at Crossroads Safehouse frequently work with families who have been displaced because of evictions, often as a result of the domestic violence they have experienced. Crossroads Safehouse supports the passage of the Eviction Crisis Act of 2019 because it will provide direct assistance to people who have been unnecessarily and negatively impacted by evictions. We thank Senators Bennet and Portman for their work on behalf of vulnerable individuals."  Kelli Pryor, Road to Home Program Manager at Crossroads Safehouse, a domestic violence service provider in Fort Collins, Colorado

     

    “Colorado Center on Law and Policy applauds Senator Michael Bennet’s legislation that addresses housing insecurity and the eviction crisis that is occurring in communities across the country. Tenants who are facing eviction are typically unable to access assistance. For tenants who must represent themselves in court, navigating the complex legal system of landlord-tenant laws can prove to be impossible. This major shortcoming in our justice system contributes to cycles of poverty and is especially harmful for families with children. An eviction can destabilize relationships, disrupt children’s development and undermine community ties. Senator Bennet’s legislation would provide support for emergency assistance, expand legal resources and enable comprehensive data collection. This legislation represents a monumental step forward in preventing evictions, and we encourage Members of Congress to lend their support.” – Jack B. Regenbogen, Senior Attorney at Colorado Center on Law and Policy

     

    “The Coalition on Homelessness & Housing in Ohio (COHHIO) enthusiastically endorses the Eviction Crisis Act and the creation of the Emergency Assistance Fund designed to prevent unnecessary evictions. Evictions in many Ohio cities are hitting record levels as housing costs are growing increasingly out of reach, especially for those with the lowest incomes. We all now understand that evictions are not only the result of – but also a cause of – deeper poverty leading to increasing homelessness.  This legislation has the promise of helping to reverse that tide. We appreciate the leadership of Senators Rob Portman and Michael Bennet working together to tackle this stubborn problem.” –  Bill Faith, Executive Director of COHHIO and state partner of the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign

    Return to Top