The Stable Families Act establishes an emergency housing assistance fund to protect low incomes families from eviction
Washington, DC: Rep. Ritchie Torres (NY-15) and Rep. Jimmy Gomez (CA-34) introduced new legislation to prevent the most vulnerable tenants from the destabilizing effects of eviction. The legislation, The Stable Families Act, would establish an Emergency Housing Assistance Fund program administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to ensure the federal government has the necessary tools to protect low-income families from eviction.
The COVID-19 economic recession and its resulting job and wage losses magnified and accelerated this existing crisis – at its peak in April 2020, the national unemployment rate hit 14.8% with some industries reporting unemployment rates of almost 40%. The skyrocketing price of housing has led to a crisis of housing instability among the 20 million renters who experienced some sort of job loss during covid, Black, Latino and Native renters were disproportionately impacted. Establishing a permanent National Housing Stabilization Fund would provide emergency assistance to cover the gaps between income and rental costs during a financial crisis.
The Fund would receive 3 billion dollars annually and be administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development with input from the Departments of Treasury, Health and Human Services, and Agriculture (USDA). A quarter of the funds would be used for housing stability-related services, such as case management, rehousing services, and services for mental health issues. States, Localities and Tribal Territories would be eligible to receive funding based on the number of extremely low-income renter households experiencing severe housing cost-burden or overcrowding, a jurisdiction’s unemployment rate, prior performance of the grantee, geographic diversity, and other factors. The remaining funds would be used to prevent evictions.
“We are all one tragedy away from losing everything, including our homes. During the pandemic we saw millions at risk of losing their homes as unemployment rose to as high as 25% in the Bronx, pushing working families toward losing their homes,” said Congressman Ritchie Torres (NY-15). “The cost of homelessness is far greater than the cost of housing. What we need now is not a temporary fix to the housing crisis but a permanent emergency rental assistance funding. That is why I am proud to introduce the Stable Families Act with Rep. Jimmy Gomez to ensure the federal government provides the necessary housing resources that are essential to the stability of American families.”
“California is home to some of our nation’s highest-need and most vulnerable renters, many of whom were just one financial crisis away from eviction long before the pandemic,” said Congressman Jimmy Gomez (CA-34). “In the wealthiest country in the world, no one should have to worry about losing their home. I’m proud to introduce the Stable Families Act, alongside Congressman Torres, to establish a permanent National Housing Stabilization Fund and ensure low-income families at risk of eviction receive the financial assistance they need to stay safe and housed.”
“I applaud Representative Ritchie Torres for introducing the ‘Stable Families Act,’ which would build on the successes and lessons learned from Congress’s historic efforts to keep renters safely, stably housed throughout the pandemic,” said Diane Yentel, President and CEO, National Low Income Housing Coalition. “Evictions have devastating consequences for individuals, families, and communities and, because of ongoing, systemic racism and discrimination, disproportionately impact Black women and families. By creating a permanent emergency rental assistance program, the ‘Stable Families Act’ will help low-income households in financial crisis avoid the trauma of eviction and housing instability.”
“Every day, people become homeless who not long before had a stable home, but whose lives and housing were disrupted by a crisis that a small amount of money could have fixed. Thanks to Representative Torres for this legislation that would make such help available, preventing housing instability and homelessness and improving the lives of struggling Americans,” said Nan Roman, President and CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness
“As a pediatrician, one of the best things I can do for my patients is to help them prevent eviction and access stable, affordable housing,” said Dr. Megan Sandel, Co-Lead Principal Investigator for Children’s HealthWatch. “These are evidence-informed policies that make that reality for millions of American children and their families.”
“In March 2022, 1.9 million families with children reported being behind on the rent and either somewhat or very likely to be evicted from their home in the next two months. The Stable Families Act would help families stay in their homes by providing emergency rental assistance to help to prevent evictions and ensure that every child and family has the housing stability they need to thrive. We appreciate Congressman Torres’s leadership and urge Congress to pass the Stable Families Act without delay,” said Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, President and CEO, Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) and CDF Action Council
“Improving housing stability is not just about keeping people in their homes, but it’s also about providing them with the foundation they need for success in many other areas of life. Stable, affordable homes are linked with better educational outcomes, better health outcomes across the lifespan, greater food security, upward economic mobility, and reduced costs to the taxpayer. The Stable Families Act would help accomplish just that,” said Mike Koprowski, National Director of the Opportunity Starts at Home Campaign
“America’s cities, towns, and villages are on the front lines of the affordable housing crisis, and local leaders are eager to support bold solutions like the Stable Families Act. This legislation would give local governments an opportunity to address a host of social and economic challenges at the root level, including providing resources to mitigate housing instability and limit costly evictions. The National League of Cities commends Representative Torres for introducing this bill,” said Clarence E. Anthony, CEO and Executive Director of the National League of Cities
“The fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on households around the nation, threatening their food, housing, and economic security. Black, Latino, Indigenous, and other communities of color are disproportionately impacted. The Stable Families Act will not only keep a family housed, but also increase a family’s food security by stabilizing the situation and avoiding the multiple harms to nutrition, health, and well-being emanating from an eviction and hunger,” said Luis Guardia, President of the Food Research & Action Center
“The National Education Association applauds Representative Torres for his introduction of the Stable Families Act. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted how essential housing is – especially for our students. This bill assists families facing desperate circumstances and will provide students with stable homes as we look to rebuild our communities,” said Marc Egan, Director of Government Relations, National Education Association
The loss of one’s home is traumatic and impactful on all fronts. Stable housing fosters better educational outcomes for students; better health outcomes as high housing distress contributes to stress related diagnoses; employment gains and builds economic security. The NAACP has been a staunch advocate for addressing the continuing problems of eviction and homelessness. The NAACP supports the efforts of Representative Torres to address this pervasive problem. The provisions in this legislation which create an Emergency Assistance Fund to aid extremely low-income American families facing eviction is vital in overcoming and combatting homelessness. The Emergency Assistance Fund, represents an important and necessary safety net for those at risk of losing their home. One that the government can, and should, adopt for all Americans especially during these ensuing times of economic challenge and hardship,” said Portia White, NAACP Vice President of Policy and Legislative Affairs.
“Preventing evictions before they occur is critically important to ending our homelessness crisis,” said Myung Lee, President and CEO of Volunteers of America-Greater New York. “The Stable Families Act would ensure that vulnerable households are stabilized in a way that avoids the traumatizing impacts that come from experiencing homelessness.”
This bill has received endorsements from National Low Income Housing Coalition, National Alliance to End Homelessness, Children’s HealthWatch, Children’s Defense Fund, Opportunity Starts at Home Campaign, National League of Cities, Food Research & Action, National Education Association, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Bill text here.
Banner Image: Housing development. Image Credit – ZACHARY STAINES