Monday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 7301, the Emergency Housing Protections and Relief Act of 2020. The bill contains emergency rental assistance legislation first introduced by Congressman Denny Heck (WA-10) in March as H.R. 6314, the Emergency Rental Assistance Act of 2020. Heck reintroduced the bill in May as H.R. 6820, the Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act of 2020.
“In two days, the rent comes due,” said Heck. “As we face historic levels of unemployment and financial need, far too many Americans are not going to be able to pay their rent this month. We must get immediate relief to families who are struggling to make rent, and help sustain the housing ecosystem through this difficult time. Today the House took a big step toward that goal. It’s now up to the Senate to pass this bill and ensure that millions of Americans will continue to have a place to live.”
The legislation would establish an Emergency Rental Assistance Program to provide $100 billion to help Americans pay their rent and stay in their homes during the COVID-19 crisis. This program is based on the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) program, an existing framework that supports emergency short-term rental assistance. By supporting tenants struggling to pay rent, this legislation also supports rental property owners of all sizes as Americans withstand the COVID-19 crisis.
Housing remains the single largest expense for American families, and the COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed renters to the threat of housing instability and eviction. According to the Urban Institute, it would cost approximately $96 billion to assist an estimated 17.6 million renter households needing rental assistance due to the economic impacts of COVID-19 for 6 months. By using the existing ESG program’s infrastructure, Congressman Heck’s legislation would work to facilitate the efficient and effective distribution of funds in order to ensure Americans receive needed rental assistance during the COVID-19 crisis.
As of Monday, Congressman Heck’s rental assistance legislation boasts 158 House cosponsors and is supported by a vast coalition of 816 organizations. Heck’s floor remarks in support of H.R. 7301 can be viewed here.
Congressman Heck co-chairs the New Democrat Coalition’s Housing Task Force, which released the report Missing Millions of Homes in the summer of 2018. Since then, Rep. Heck has been fighting for legislation to alleviate the national housing crisis and increase affordability. In the past year he has introduced the Emergency Rental Assistance Act (H.R. 6314), the Yes In My Backyard Act (H.R. 4351), the Tribal Access to Homeless Assistance Act (H.R. 4029), a reauthorization of the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (H.R. 5319), and the Fulfilling the Promise of the Housing Trust Fund Act (H.R. 5599). He also cosponsored the Build More Housing Near Transit Act (H.R. 4307) and the Veteran HOUSE Act (H.R. 2398), both introduced by Rep. Scott Peters (CA-52).