Summary of the Eviction Crisis Act
Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Rob Portman (R-OH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Todd Young (R-IN), have introduced the Eviction Crisis Act of 2021, a bipartisan legislative initiative designed to address the nation’s eviction crisis. Strategic policies in the bill were developed and championed by the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign which has garnered cross sector support from respected national organizations. The bill offers wide-ranging policy solutions that are necessary to address the affordable housing crisis as well as the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Eviction Crisis Act of 2021 comes at a crucial time and outlines the following steps to address the crisis:
Improve Data and Analysis on Evictions
- Creates a national database to standardize data and track evictions to better inform policy decisions.
- Establishes a Federal Advisory Committee on Eviction Research to make recommendations related to data collection, as well as policies and practices that can prevent evictions or mitigate their consequences.
- Allocates funding for a comprehensive study to track evictions, analyze landlord-tenant law, and assess varying factors in urban, suburban, and rural areas.
Reduce Preventable Evictions and Mitigate Eviction’s Consequences
Co-invest in state and local government programs:
- Creates a program to fund state and local governments expanding the use of landlord-tenant community courts and increasing the presence of social services representatives for tenants, which help both tenants and landlords avoid the high cost of eviction.
- Establishes an Emergency Assistance Fund at $3 billion annually to provide financial assistance as well as housing stability-related services to eviction-vulnerable tenants.
Support increased legal representation for tenants:
- Expresses support for substantially increasing funding for the Legal Services Corporation, a public-private partnership that provides legal services to low-income Americans.
Improve Information on Tenant Screening Reports
- Requires consumer reporting agencies to provide consumers with tenant screening reports when they are requested as part of a rental application process, so tenants can contest and correct inaccurate or incomplete information.
- When a court rules in favor of a tenant in an eviction proceeding, requires those judgments and eviction filings related to that proceeding to be removed from tenant screening reports.
Since 1960, rents have risen by 61% while renters’ incomes have increased by just 5% which means more and more families are spending a larger portion of their incomes on rent alone, leaving little room for food, family care, or medical attention. A decline of income, an unexpected medical expense or a car repair is all it takes for a family living in poverty to face housing instability, eviction or homelessness. Furthermore, displacement and homelessness are proven to cause a deeper financial strain on our nation’s health care system, courts, schools, and local governments. Most families in poverty spend at least half of their incomes on housing, and we believe that no family should have to choose between paying the rent or feeding their children.
The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the crisis that many low-income families in Pennsylvania were already facing. Research shows that evictions disproportionally impact households with children and communities of color. The Emergency Assistance Fund offers dedicated funding to vulnerable tenants to avoid eviction by covering rental payments and arrears, utility payments, relocation costs, late fees, and court fees while part of the funding can also be used for case management, rehousing, housing counseling services and other services such as for behavioral, emotional and mental health issues. The Eviction Crisis Act of 2021 is a long-term solution to help stabilize families in Pennsylvania which will advance the Commonwealth as a whole.
Adams, Samuel. “Eviction Crisis Act: What It Is and Why It Matters,” Opportunity Starts at Home, June 2021. https://www.opportunityhome.org/resources/eviction-crisis-act-what-it-is-and-why-it-matters/
Bennet, Michael. “Eviction Crisis Act of 2021 Full Description,” June 2021. https://www.bennet.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/3/3/337f939e-b41b-43c3-8596-426078777f0f/A09034074B75992B3446C8A8266DA22B.eviction-crisis-act-of-2021—full-description.pdf
National Low Income Housing Coalition. ”Ensure Universal Rental Assistance,” HoUSed Campaign, https://nlihc.org/sites/default/files/Solution_Rental_Assistance.pdf
Portman, Rob. “Portman, Bennet, Brown, and Young Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Tackle the Eviction Crisis,” Press Releases, June 23, 2021. https://www.portman.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/portman-bennet-brown-and-young-introduce-bipartisan-legislation-tackle