WASHINGTON — A bill being introduced in the U.S. Senate would help individuals pay rent during the coronavirus pandemic through $100 billion in emergency rental assistance.
Ohio Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown announced details about his bill, the Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act, on Twitter.
"We cannot leave behind the millions of Americans who could be facing eviction without #RentReliefNow," his tweet reads. "I’m introducing a bill that provides $100 billion in emergency rental assistance to help people pay their rent during and after this pandemic."
He continued to say that the last thing Americans should be worried about during a "public health crisis" is being forced out of their homes.
Representatives Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Denny Heck (D-WA) are sponsoring a similar bill in the U.S. House. The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) also backs the legislation.
The proposal, if passed, would direct the Department of Housing and Urban Development to oversee the distribution of $100 billion to low-income households experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness during the coronavirus pandemic.
The NLIHC says state and local governments would be able to distribute the money to offer short- and medium-term rental assistance for up to 24 months or six months of back rent and late fees. The fund will be paid directly to the housing provider on behalf of the tenant.
Under the plan, rent assistance would be capped at 120% of fair market rents. Of the $100 billion provided under the proposal, 40% of the funds must be used for households with only a third of the median income for their area.
Incomes below half of the area's median income would receive about 70% of the funds, and the remaining funds would be used to serve households bearing up to 80% of the area median income.
The legislation adds that two percent of the money will be allocated to benefit Native American tribes and Native Hawaiians.
If approved, the Department of Housing and Urban Development would need to allocate half of the funds to states and communities within a week of the bill being signed into law. The money will then be distributed within 30 days.
“Housing is the single largest expense for most American families,” said Rep. Heck in a press release when he announced the House version of the bill in March. “By a longshot. Right now, those same families are facing job loss, struggling with child care, and dealing with other unprecedented financial burdens stemming from the global COVID-19 crisis – and many are unable to make next month’s rent. We have to get meaningful help to them as soon as we possibly can.”
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) also introduced a bill to cancel rent and home mortgage payments nationwide for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.