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July 27, 2023

Pressley, DeLauro & Bush Re-Introduce Bill to Support Families Facing Eviction

HELP ACT Prohibits Mark of Eviction on Credit Reports, Funds Eviction-Related Legal Aid, Cracks Down on Illegal Evictions & More

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WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) and Congresswoman Cori Bush (MO-01) re-introduced the Housing Emergencies Lifeline Program (HELP) Act, much needed legislation to provide support to those facing eviction. The legislation prohibits credit reporting of evictions, rent, and utility debt, funds legal representation for those at risk of eviction, cracks down on illegal evictions, and more.

“Housing is a human right, and evictions are a preventable form of policy violence,” Congresswoman Pressley said. “With evictions surging and Black, brown, immigrant and low-income renters disproportionately vulnerable, we must move with urgency and use every tool available to keep folks safely housed. With the HELP Act, we would shrink the gap in legal representation and provide renters more resources to fight eviction and avoid homelessness.”

“As a child, I will never forget coming home to see my family’s belongings on the street—we had been evicted,” said Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro. “I know firsthand that evictions do not occur in a vacuum. These traumatic events often have collateral consequences, such as job loss, poor educational outcomes, poor physical and mental health, and lack of access to housing in the future. The HELP Act provides those at risk of eviction access to legal counsel, creates a database to track evictions, and prohibits credit reporting of evictions and rent and utility debt. We must work to end the vicious cycle of poverty and ensure that people have the resources and support they need for stable housing.”

“The HELP Act serves as an essential lifeline to protect renters from the long-lasting consequences of being evicted like having an eviction filing on their credit report,” said Congresswoman Cori Bush. “Eviction prevention measures included in this legislation are targeted to keep the most vulnerable members of our community housed. I personally know how expensive living in poverty can be. This legislation provides the financial and legal support to allow low-income renters to access housing and remain housed permanently.”

The Housing Emergencies Lifeline Program (HELP) Act provides critical support to those facing evictions. Specifically, the legislation would:

  • Prohibit credit reporting of evictions and utility debt;
  • Require covered landlords to inform their tenants of their rights and responsibilities and to disclose reasons for an eviction in writing to crack down on illegal evictions;
  • Authorize $10 billion in Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) to fund legal counsel for those facing or at risk of eviction; and
  • Direct the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to establish a database of eviction information gathered from all State and local entities that receive covered housing assistance.

The Housing Emergencies Lifeline Program (HELP) Act is endorsed by National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders, Community Action Agency for Somerville, Inc., National Housing Law Project, New Jersey Tenants Organization, A. Philip Randolph Square Neighborhood Alliance, and PolicyLink.

In recent decades, rising rent prices in the US have outpaced renters’ wage increases, with median rent rising 13% and median income increasing less than 05%. Latinas are at an especially higher risk of facing the consequences of this gap, with 1 in 12 Latinas being evicted in their adult life.NALCAB, the National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders, applauds Rep. Pressely for introducing the Housing Emergencies Lifeline Program Act – legislation that will provide funding for legal counsel for those facing eviction and crack down on illegal evictions.  We urge this bill’s passage,” said Clarinda Landeros, Director of Public Policy, NALCAB.

“As a Community Action Agency located in a city where 67% of the population rents, we daily see examples of the violence that eviction wreaks on low- and moderate-income households. The provisions of this ACT would help to curb some of the most common abusive practices that we see in our city,” said David Gibbs, CAAS.

“The Housing Emergencies Lifeline Program (HELP) Act would dramatically improve access to the rental housing market for poor Americans, especially Black and Latino households. The bill provides significant funding for eviction defense and would prohibit reporting evictions or rent-related debt. An eviction report is a stain that follows low-income renters for years after they experience hardship, and the HELP Act would help millions of American families out of the cycle of housing instability. NHLP applauds representatives Pressley, DeLauro, and Bush as they put forward real solutions to our evictions crisis,” said Shamus Roller, Executive Director, NHLP.

“Prohibiting consumer reporting agencies from including eviction filings in consumer reports is extremely important, as these reports virtually prevent tenants from finding new rental homes, as landlords typically refuse to rent to anyone who has had an eviction action filed against them.  These agencies typically do no follow-up, only reporting the filing, not the result.  Nor do they distinguish the cause of the filing or of the eviction.  It is simply a “black” mark on the “record” of a tenant who often has done nothing and has not breached her lease in any way. Providing funding for legal counsel will cut evictions in half. Requiring HUD to maintain a database on evictions will provide vital information to housing activists across the country, who need this information to advocate for local eviction reforms. Educating tenants with regard to their rights, or lack thereof, is the first step toward progress in the arena of tenants rights,” said the New Jersey Tenants Organization.

“At a time when tenants are without the protections that were provided during the COVID-emergencies, the HELP Act (H. R. 6696) provides important structures that will gather information about evictions in federally assisted housing at a time when there’s a dramatic uptick evictions. One of the many critical features of the bill is the requirement to report the reason for the eviction and whether the respondents facing eviction had the benefit of legal counsel. Additionally, this bill extends and expands protections to tenants by prohibiting consumer protection agencies from releasing information regarding evictions that could be used to unfairly blacklist persons who faced eviction. Lastly, and more importantly, the Help Act will create a fund to support programs that will provide tenants facing eviction with legal representation who would almost certainly be evicted without legal counsel,” said Gregory Christopher Baggett, Founder, A. Philip Randolph Square Neighborhood Alliance.

Congresswoman Pressley, alongside Chairwoman DeLauro and then-Senator Kamala Harris, originally introduced the HELP Act during the summer of 2020 following the expiration of the limited federal eviction moratorium.

In September, Rep. Pressley joined Rep. Bush and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in introducing the Keeping Renters Safe Act of 2021 to enact an urgently needed nationwide eviction moratorium. 

Over the summer of 2021, with the previous eviction moratorium set to expire, Rep. Pressley stood in solidarity with Congresswoman Cori Bush on the steps of the US Capitol to urge the Administration to act unilaterally to extend this protection—efforts that resulted in a new CDC eviction moratorium

On July 31, 2021, ahead of the expiration of the previous CDC eviction moratorium, Reps. Pressley, Bush, Gomez and their progressive colleagues sent a letter renewing their calls for President Biden and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky to extend the federal eviction moratorium and prevent the historic and deadly wave of evictions that would occur if the government failed to do so. 

On July 30, 2021, Rep. Pressley joined House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) in introducing the Protecting Renters from Evictions Act of 2021, legislation to extend the eviction moratorium through the end of the year. 

In June 2021, Rep. Pressley, along with Reps. Gomez and Bush, led over 40 of their colleagues on a letter urging President Biden and CDC Director Walensky to extend and strengthen the moratorium for the duration of the public health crisis.