Congressional Renters Caucus calls for more federal rental assistance

The Congressional Renters Caucus is encouraging House Appropriations Committee leaders to expand funding for federal rental assistance and other housing programs as the nation grapples with a lack of affordable housing.

More than 45 million U.S. households rent, according to estimates from the National Multifamily Housing Council. Many members of the Renters Caucus, launched by Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.) last summer, represent districts where more than half of residents are renters.

Rents have skyrocketed nearly 30 percent since the start of the pandemic, with nearly two-thirds of that increase coming in 2021, according to a recent report by the real estate company Zillow. Nearly half of renters spent more than 30 percent of their income on rent in 2022, according to Moody’s Analytics, classifying them as “rent burdened.”

In a letter shared exclusively with The Hill, the Democratic lawmakers asked their colleagues to expand rental assistance programs including funding for Housing Choice Vouchers, renew existing Project-Based Rental Assistance contracts, fund the maintenance and preservation of public housing and beef up renter protections to address the “unprecedented crisis” facing renters.

“Across the country our constituents are struggling to find and keep a home in an increasingly unaffordable rental housing market, due to insufficient federal rental assistance, inadequate supply of high quality, affordable rental housing, and unnecessary, often discriminatory additional barriers preventing millions of Americans from getting into safe, affordable, high quality rental housing,” the lawmakers wrote.

Record-high housing prices are raising the barriers to home ownership and forcing more people to rent, particularly for young and first-time homebuyers, and a growing number of Americans are unable to afford housing. A record 653,000 people were experiencing homelessness last year as housing costs rose and pandemic-era assistance waned, a recent report from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) found.

Gomez told The Hill that the Renters Caucus is pushing to lower housing costs, increase the supply of housing and remove barriers to fair and affordable renting “because it is entirely unacceptable that the federal government isn’t putting every resource possible towards tackling the housing crisis.”

The California Democrat represents parts of Los Angeles, where nearly two-thirds of households rent, according to RentCafe. Nearly 4 in 10 renters in Los Angeles have worried about becoming homeless, according to the 2024 Quality of Life Index released last month by the University of California, Los Angeles Luskin School of Public Affairs, which also found that concerns about the high cost of living pushed residents’ satisfaction to its lowest level since they started the survey nine years ago.

Gomez told The Hill that he founded the Renters Caucus “because as more and more Americans are priced out of homeownership and forced to rent, we need to start putting renters at the heart of federal housing policy.”

“In one of the richest countries in the world, every single person should have access to a safe and affordable place to live, but unfortunately, federal housing assistance is falling far short,” said Gomez.

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