Pressley, Bush, Warren, Colleagues Unveil Keeping Renters Safe Act

September 21, 2021
Press Release
Bill Reinstates Eviction Moratorium to Keep Families Safely Housed

Bill Text (PDF) | One-Pager (PDF) | Press Conference

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) joined Congresswoman Cori Bush (MO-01), Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and over three dozen colleagues in introducing the Keeping Renters Safe Act of 2021 to enact an urgently needed nationwide eviction moratorium. 

In direct response to the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down President Biden’s initial eviction moratorium on the grounds that the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) lacked the statutory authority to mandate such a moratorium, the Keeping Renters Safe Act of 2021 would grant the HHS Secretary permanent authority to implement an eviction moratorium in the interests of public health. 

“With millions of vulnerable renters at risk of being unhoused as COVID-19 deaths spike nationwide, Congress must act with urgency to prevent the impending eviction crisis and the trauma that would accompany it,” said Congresswoman Pressley. “Our bill does that by reinstating the federal eviction moratorium so families can stay safely housed and access federal emergency rental assistance while we recover from this ongoing pandemic. Without collective action, COVID-19 will continue to spread, lives and homes will continue to be lost, and the hurt our communities are experiencing will only get worse. We've been fighting hard for this and we must act before it’s too late.” 

“Housing is a human right, not a bargaining chip to let fall between bureaucratic cracks,” said Congresswoman Cori Bush. “Nearly 40 million Americans have tested positive for COVID-19. Over 670,000 people have died of this virus, and countless are living permanently disabled from its aftereffects. As the Delta variant continues to force individuals to quarantine, close schools, and stifle businesses, we must do all we can to save lives. That starts with keeping every person safely housed. The Keeping Renters Safe of 2021 will save lives and give us more time: time for renters to receive financial assistance, time for the economy to fully recover, and time for the pandemic to finally come to an end. I’m humbled to introduce this critical, actionable legislation with Senator Warren and so many of my colleagues.” 

“This pandemic isn’t over, and we have to do everything we can to protect renters from the harm and trauma of needless eviction, which upends the lives of those struggling to get back on their feet,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren. “Pushing hundreds of thousands of people out of their homes will only exacerbate this public health crisis, and cause economic harm to families, their communities, and our overall recovery. Congress must pass the Keeping Renters Safe Act of 2021 to put the eviction moratorium back in place and clarify that HHS has the authority to protect renters throughout this public health crisis. Safe housing saves lives.” 

The Keeping Renters Safe Act of 2021 will protect renters from eviction and curb the spread of COVID-19 by: 

  • Amending section 361 of the Public Health Service Act to grant permanent authority to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to implement a federal eviction moratorium to address public health crises.
  • Direct HHS to implement a national residential eviction moratorium in response to COVID-19 that:
    • Must be automatic, without requiring individuals to apply for coverage.
    • Applies to all residential eviction filings, hearings, judgments, and execution of judgments.
    • Allows the Secretary to establish appropriate moratorium exceptions necessary to protect the health and safety of others.
    • Remains in effect at least 60 days following the conclusion of the public health emergency. 

Since the start of COVID-19, millions of renters found themselves behind on rent, laid off from their jobs or found their hours cut during lockdowns. The federal, state, and local eviction moratoria were mandated because lawmakers at every level recognized the dire urgency of preventing millions of people from being thrown out onto the street in the middle of a deadly global pandemic. 

Since then, the majority of those eviction moratoria have lapsed, stimulus checks have come and gone, and unemployment benefits have expired. Yet, a significant portion of Americans continue to experience devastating levels of financial hardship. We know that close to 90 percent of the $47 billion in emergency rental assistance Congress provided to state and local grantees have not been distributed and people are desperately waiting for help we promised. The Keeping Renters Safe Act of 2021 helps fulfill that promise. 

“The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t ended and neither should emergency housing protections,” said Senator Ed Markey. “As a million Americans face eviction in the coming months, Congress has an urgent mandate to keep the eviction moratorium in place through the remainder of this public health emergency. The Keeping Renters Safe Act will ensure renters can count on a roof over their heads and not an eviction notice on their door. I thank Rep. Bush for her continued leadership on this lifeline issue and my colleagues for their partnership on this legislation.” 

“Last month, I proudly stood alongside Rep. Bush and fought to keep as many as 11 million Americans from becoming homeless. Now, I’m proud to stand by her today as we continue that fight by introducing the Keeping Renters Safe Act,” said Congressman Mondaire Jones. “Despite how hard we fought, and the many days we stayed out on those Capitol steps, the far-right, 6-3 on the Supreme Court, in a dangerous, partisan decision, struck down the CDC’s eviction moratorium. This left millions once again at risk of eviction. In the world’s richest nation, no one should have to experience housing insecurity -- especially not during a deadly pandemic with the Delta variant ravaging our communities. We have a moral obligation to ensure every person remains safe and housed for the duration of this pandemic and long after. That’s exactly what our bill, the Keeping Renters Safe Act, would do.” 

“We continue to face a historic housing and homelessness crisis, which has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Senator Alex Padilla. “In California alone, over 161,000 people experience homelessness each night – including families with young children, veterans, and victims of domestic violence. That is why I am proud to co-lead the Keeping Renters Safe Act of 2021, which will ensure people in California and across the country are protected from unreasonable and dangerous evictions.”

“At this very moment, families across the country are facing the prospect of eviction from their homes,” said Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. “Not only does an eviction immediately threaten their safety and security but it can follow a family for years, making finding new housing challenging and limiting their opportunities. Housing is a human right. I’m proud to join my colleague Cori Bush to protect these families from eviction. Congress must act now to pass this legislation before even one more family loses their home.” 

“I have lived through eviction,” said Vivian Smith, tenant leader, Miami Workers Center and the Homes Guarantee Campaign at People’s Action. “I have lived through homelessness. I have been forced to make choices between feeding my kids and paying the rent. No one should have to make this choice. During the pandemic, I’ve been forced to choose between my health and my home, returning to work before it was safe in order to avoid eviction. Tenants like me need Congress to act with urgency to pass an eviction moratorium, to end all evictions, now and at least until the public health emergency is over.” 

“Congress should enact this broad eviction moratorium to keep millions of families safely and stably housed during the pandemic,” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “The Supreme Court’s ruling to lift the moratorium will have devastating and long-lasting consequences. The moratorium was a lifeline for millions of renters, and the last federal protection keeping many of them stably housed as they wait for emergency rental assistance to reach them. Without the moratorium in place, families will be pushed deeper into poverty, communities will struggle with increased spread of COVID-19, and our country will have a harder time containing the virus.” 

“Right now, in the middle of a pandemic and the climate crisis, millions of people risk losing their homes, their security, and their safety because a partisan, undemocratic Supreme Court ended the eviction moratorium,” said Lauren Maunus, Sunrise Movement Advocacy Director. “In the wealthiest country in the world, no one should be forced from their home or be houseless. Elected officials must pass the Keeping Renters Safe Act of 2021 so families can remain in their homes as we deal with a deadly pandemic and unrelenting climate crisis ravaging our most vulnerable communities.” 

In the House, the bill is co-sponsored by: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14),* Jimmy Gomez (CA-34),* Ilhan Omar (MN-05),* Mondaire Jones (NY-17),* Jan Schakowsky (IL-09),* Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-00), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Juan Vargas (CA-51), Jesús G. “Chuy” García (IL-04), Kaiali‘i Kahele (HI-02), Danny K. Davis (IL-07), Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Karen Bass (CA-37), Grace Meng (NY-06), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Mark Takano (CA-41), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Ritchie Torres (NY-15), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Andy Levin (MI-09), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Melanie Stansbury (NM-01), Jerry Nadler (NY-10), Yvette Clarke (NY-09), David N. Cicilline (RI-01), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), Bennie G. Thompson (MS-02), Nikema Williams (GA-05) In the Senate, the bill is co-sponsored by: Sens. Ed Markey (D-MA),* Alex Padilla (D-CA),* Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Bernard Sanders (I-VT). 

The bill is endorsed by 81 organizations: A Way Home America, Action Center on Race and the Economy, Affordable Housing Network of Santa Clara County, ArchCity Defenders, Inc., Be:Seattle, Beyond Housing, Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, Bull City Tenants United, CA Renters Caucus, Charles House’, Citizen Action of New York, Community Alliance of Tenants, Community Action for Safe Apartments, Community Solutions, Covenant House, Detroit Action, Down Home NC, Empower Missouri, Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, Florida Rising, FreeSource, Funders Together to End Homelessness, HOMES Campaign Delaware, Hometown Action, Hoosier Action, Horizon Housing Development Company, Housing Justice Project, HousingLOUISIANA, Human Impact Partners, Indivisible, Inquilinxs Unidxs por Justicia (United Renters for Justice), Jane Addams Senior Caucus, JustFix, Justice Democrats, KC Tenants, KY Tenants, Los Angeles Community Action Network, Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center, Make the Road Nevada, Metropolitan Development Council, Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council, Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, National Center for Healthy Housing, National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, National Coalition for Housing Justice, National Coalition for the Homeless, National Education Association, National Health Care for the Homeless Council, National Homelessness Law Center, National Housing Law Project, National Low Income Housing Coalition, National Women's Law Center, New Jersey Citizen Action, New Jersey Tenants Organization, ONE Northside, One Westlake, Our Revolution, Palo Alto Renters' Association, People’s Action, PUSH Buffalo, Progressive Leadership Alliance Of Nevada, Right to Counsel NYC Coalition, Riverside Edgecombe Neighborhood Association, Rent Zero Kansas, RESULTS, Root Cause Research Center, Safety Net Project: Urban Justice Center, Show Up for Racial Justice, Social Security Works, South Carolina Housing Justice Network, Street Vendor Project: Urban Justice Center, Sunrise Movement, Tenants Political Action Committee, Unemployed Workers United, Unified Citizens, Inc., United Vision for Idaho, Western Regional Advocacy Project, Westside Health Authority, The Women's Building, Working Families Party, Youth Collaboratory. 

The lawmakers will hold a press conference today at 12pm ET at the House Triangle to unveil their legislation. Members of the media may join in person or via livestream found here at the time of the event. 

Late last month, with the previous eviction moratorium set to expire, Rep. Pressley stood in solidarity with her colleague 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, 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, 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, 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. 

From the onset of the pandemic, Congresswoman Pressley has fought tirelessly to provide robust housing protections for families in Massachusetts and across the nation. 

  • On March 18, 2020, Reps. Pressley, Katie Porter (D-CA) and Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) wrote to HUD calling for a moratorium on evicting renters during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • On March 19, 2020, Rep. Pressley, along with progressive lawmakers and organizations, introduced the Housing is a Human Right Act to authorize more than $200 billion in federal spending over 10 years for crucial housing infrastructure and reduce homelessness.
  • On March 23, 2020, Reps. Pressley and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) introduced the Public Health Emergency Shelter Act of 2020, legislation to provide critical funding to states and local governments responding to the needs of families and individuals experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 crisis. This legislation was included and passed through the HEROES Act and H.R. 7301, the Emergency Housing Protections and Relief Act of 2020.
  • On April 10, 2020, Rep. Pressley urged Congressional leadership to prioritize recurring monthly cash payments to those most at-risk during the COVID-19 crisis. This funding would allow people to cover all their bills, including rent.
  • On April 17, 2020, Reps. Pressley, Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and colleagues introduce the Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act, a bill to institute a nationwide cancellation of rents and home mortgage payments through the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • On May 11, 2020, Reps. Tlaib, and Joe Neguse (D-CO) urge House and Senate leadership to include $11.5 billion in funding for Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) in the next relief package to aid the nation’s homeless population who are experiencing heightened vulnerability during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • On July 24, 2020, in a Financial Services Committee hearing, Rep. Pressley discussed the unprecedented financial cliff facing millions of renters and homeowners, the economic consequences of millions losing their homes, including the ability to return to work, and why funding for legal representation is so critical.
  • On July 28, 2020, Rep. Pressley, Rep. DeLauro and Sen. Harris introduced the Housing Emergencies Lifeline Program (HELP) Act to provide much-needed, layered assistance to those facing eviction amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • On May 18, 2021, Reps. Bush and Pressley sent a letter to the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), calling on the CDC to strengthen and extend the federal moratorium on evictions, ensuring families can remain safely in their homes for the duration of the COVID-19 global health emergency.
  • In June 2021, Congresswoman Pressley, along with Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), re-introduced the Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act, a bill to institute a nationwide cancellation of rents and home mortgage payments through the duration of the coronavirus pandemic. 

 

 

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