WASHINGTON — As Americans face a nationwide housing crisis, the Chairs of leading congressional caucuses are calling for federal action to protect people’s rights and stop rent price-gouging.

Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus; Nanette Barragán (CA-44), Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus; Judy Chu (CA-28), Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus; and Steven Horsford (NV-04), Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus called for action from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the independent agency tasked with ensuring fairness in housing lending and protecting renters. 

“Renters across the nation are in crisis: high rents and rent hikes put America’s lowest-income and most marginalized renters at risk of losing their homes,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to FHFA Director Sandra L. Johnson. “Rent inflation continues to be a driver of overall inflation…[and] nearly half of all renters spent more than a third of their income on rent in the previous year, an all-time high for our nation.”

The Caucus Chairs emphasize that the urgency is not limited to rent costs: “Eviction filings are climbing to even higher rates than before the pandemic. In the worst cases, individuals and families are being forced into homelessness, living in tents, cars, or shelters and severely devastating families with children, and older adults. The rent inflation crisis is an issue of racial and economic justice. Black, Hispanic, and Asian American renters are more likely to be severely cost burdened than white renters.”

The members called for six key reforms:

  1. Anti-rent gouging protections to stop landlords from rent hikes.

  2. “Good cause” eviction standards to safeguard against unfair, discriminatory, and retaliatory evictions. 

  3. Source of income protections to prohibit landlords from discriminating against
    households receiving housing assistance.

  4. Habitability and accessibility requirements to ensure housing is safe, decent,
    accessible, and healthy.

  5. Rental registry participation requirements so tenants are adequately informed about their landlord before signing a lease.

  6. Limits on artificial intelligence to curb rent spikes, prevent tenant discrimination, and reduce other unintended consequences.

“These protections are necessary — along with large-scale, sustained investments that only Congress can provide — to ensure that the lowest-income and most marginalized renters have an affordable place to call home,” the Chairs conclude.

The letter follows the CPC 2023 Executive Action Agenda, which called on the Biden administration to use its executive authority to combat rent price gouging and unfair evictions by landlords, expand access to affordable housing and lower rent costs, and prohibit tenant discrimination.

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