Harris Reintroduces Legislation to Provide Relief to Americans Facing Skyrocketing Cost of Rent

Press Release

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) on Tuesday reintroduced the Rent Relief Act, legislation to provide much-needed support to middle class and working Americans who are struggling to keep up with the rising cost of rent. The legislation creates a new, refundable tax credit for households whose housing costs exceed 30% of their income, including rent and utilities. Unlike existing tax credits, Americans who qualify would receive the benefits every month. Harris was joined by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) in reintroducing the legislation.

“Housing is a human right, and we must act now to end the affordable housing crisis and provide relief to working families who are worried about making each month’s rent,” said Harris. “Right now, nearly half of Americans couldn’t afford an emergency $400 expense – these families need help now. This is about more than just economics—it’s about the basic security and dignity that every American deserves to have in their own home.”

Under the Rent Relief Act, a household’s credit would be determined by their income and the amount spent on housing costs (rent, utilities) in excess of 30% of their gross income.

According to the Columbia Center on Poverty and Social Policy, the Rent Relief Act, which was first introduced in 2018, would reduce the poverty rate by as much as 2.4%, lifting 7.8 million Americans out of poverty, including more than 2 million children. Approximately 21 million Americans spend more than 30% of their earnings on rent, with a disproportionate and rising burden falling on families of color.

Companion legislation will be introduced in the House by Representatives Danny K. Davis (D-IL), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), and Scott Peters (D-CA).

Supporters of the Rent Relief Act include the National Low Income Housing Coalition, National Alliance to End Homelessness, Fair Housing of California, and the National Housing Law Project.

“I applaud Senator Harris and Congressmembers Danny Davis, Scott Peters, and Jimmy Gomez for their leadership in introducing this innovative, bold proposal, which would help struggling families who today face impossible choices between paying rent and meeting their other basic needs, including putting groceries on the table and taking care of their health. A new tax credit for renters – like the one proposed today – could transform lives, providing millions of the lowest income people with the breadth of opportunities that start with an affordable home—opportunities to climb the economic ladder, improve their health, and allow children to do better in school.” – Diane Yentel, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

For a full list of supportive statements, click here.

For further background on the bill, click here.

For full bill text, click here.


6 COMMENTS

  1. with a disproportionate and rising burden falling on families of color.
    Why is this Kamala? Perhaps you should concentrate on that issue at hand.

  2. This high housing cost has been brought up by three entities: (1) The tech industry, (2) real estate agents and (3) too many people living where they cannot afford to live.

    The tech industry should not be concentrated in Silicon Valley but throughout the country and they can communicate using the methods they have developed. This way, people don’t have to leave their home states, families and relatives to move here and add to the already high cost of living.

    Real estate agents are pushing the envelope with their “we can get you a higher price for your house way over the asking price” scam! Of course they will do it. It results in a larger commission for them! They even have the unmitigated gall to get on TV and brag about it.

    Anyone purchasing a house which they plan to rent out will charge the highest rent they can… and understandably so. Who wouldn’t?

    The bottom line in all this is actually the third one. Too many people living here who cannot afford the high cost of living. This will get worse! People should live where they can afford to live. If they have to work 3 jobs to make ends meet, they are in the wrong area. If they have to drive for over 3 hours to get to work, they losing it at the end.

    • James B — You are correct! I think the real estate agents are the biggest culprits here. For example, I want to sell one of my houses and contacted an agent to list it but at a reasonable price in order to attract buyers who were not zillionaires or foreigners — and I would decide who to sell it to. The agents REFUSED to take the listing at the price I wanted. He said I could get $200,000 more for it. So, I put it up as “for sale by owner” … and i had full control that way.

  3. This will distort the market for housing. People should live where they can afford to live, and if there’s good reason for them to live somewhere they can’t afford, then more housing will be built to correct that situation. I agree with the need to support those who can’t make ends meet, but things like this that target specific costs are not a good way to do that.

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