■ Meaghan Lynch / Contributed
U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) has 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 percent 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 percent 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 percent. This would lift 7.8 million Americans out of poverty, including more than two million children. Approximately 21 million Americans spend more than 30 percent 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,” said Diane Yentel, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.