Rental inflation: Biden pressured to cut costs

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The White House hasn’t done enough to tackle rent inflation, says a coalition of tenant unions, community organizations and rights groups, who are calling on the Biden administration to launch a full-scale government response to intervene.

A series of proposals shared with the Washington Post call for the Biden administration to declare a housing emergency and explore ways to regulate rents. The proposals involve six government agencies and are intended to get federal regulators to consider new ways to contain rental costs, which rose 5.8 percent in June from a year earlier.

Overall prices are up 9.1 percent year-on-year and inflation remains the biggest economic problem facing households, businesses and policymakers alike.

In recent months, the Biden administration has come under tremendous pressure to find funds to lower gas prices, another key way people feel inflation in their daily lives. The White House has responded with oil approvals and has asked Congress to consider a gas tax holiday, which has not happened.

Proponents want the same urgency and solutions to housing, calling it its own economic crisis.

Inflation makes homelessness worse

“We urge the President to act immediately to regulate rents as part of the administration’s effort to curb inflation and as a critical foundation for long-term protection to correct the power imbalance between tenants and their landlords,” it said sent it in a memo from the coalition to National Economic Council Director Brian Deese and others in the White House Advisor.

The effort, part of a campaign called Homes Guarantee, comes a week after the White House held a summit on its efforts to Prevent evictions during the pandemic and ensure financial support for struggling renters remains. During an online forum, White House officials touted progress on the Emergency Rental Assistance program, which was backed in the midst of the Covid crisis to stave off a wave of evictions once a federal moratorium was no longer in effect.

While the money ran out very slowly at first, the program grew. About $40 billion has been committed or spent out of a $46 billion pot, according to the Treasury Department, and eviction requests nationwide remain below their historical averages.

At Invitation Homes, unauthorized work leaves leaky plumbing and improper repairs, renters say

While the summit was portrayed as a victory lap of sorts, Biden administration officials acknowledged there is still more work to be done, especially as rising rents limit where families can afford to live. Redfin data shows that the average monthly asking rent in the United States topped $2,000 for the first time in May, with rents rising nationwide.

“The question is, are we content to collapse this first-ever national infrastructure to reduce evictions?” Gene Sperling, coordinator of the American Rescue Plan, the 2021 pandemic relief package, said at the summit last week. “Or are we going to build on it and strengthen it and make lasting gains?”

Why your rent is increasing

A major reason for the rising cost of housing is that there simply aren’t enough apartments. The United States needs 1.5 million to 5 million housing units built, according to a wide range of economic estimates. In May, the White House unveiled its Housing Supply Action Plan, which aims to end the country’s housing shortage in five years.

But those investments would do little to combat rent inflation right now. Controlling inflation is the job of the Federal Reserve, which has made aggressive efforts to lower prices by raising interest rates. But the Fed can’t target specific parts of the economy, let alone build houses and leave tailored solutions to elected officials.

“Renters have to pay their rent every month and the alternative is homelessness,” said Tara Raghuveer, Homes Guarantee campaign director at People’s Action. “If the President intends to take any meaningful action to curb inflation, he must be serious about using every available power to regulate rent.”

More precisely, the coalition wants a cabinet-level task force to look at regulation Rent and Security legal help for tenants in the eviction process. Even advocates want the Treasury to issue new rules that direct state and local grantees to prevent landlords from raising rents above a certain amount as a condition of receiving rent subsidies.

They say the Department of Housing and Urban Development should examine whether rising rents are contributing to inequality and preventing access to fair housing. And the group wants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to impose rent controls on all government-backed mortgage borrowers.

Zonnie Thompson, 23, lives in one of these properties in Stockton, California. His rent recently went up from $1,500 to $1,700. As part of a tenant delegation, Thompson is traveling to Washington this week to discuss solutions with the head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

“We want them to commit to working with organizations across the country, such as B. Our own, to put in place policies that protect renters and improve their ability to stay in their homes — without forfeiting a chunk of their paycheck on rent,” Thompson said.

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