By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
The pressure on the government to do something about rising housing costs has resulted in the Biden administration announcing major new initiatives to safeguard tenants and make renting more affordable.
Now, several federal agencies announced they would collaborate to compile data on discriminatory housing practices.
A non-binding “Blueprint for a Renters Bill of Rights” is also included to provide clear instructions for tenants to continue living in moderately priced rentals.
In addition, the White House is issuing a rallying cry called the “Resident-Centered Housing Challenge,” with the goal of encouraging housing providers and state and local governments to bolster policy in their respective markets.
“Since taking office, the president has taken substantial steps to promote fairness in the rental market and ease the burden of rental costs for millions of American renters,” administration officials wrote in a Fact Sheet.
Officials said the administration kept the national eviction moratorium in place until August 2021, which helped to prevent over 1.5 million eviction filings nationwide.
Further, the administration has delivered over 8 million rental or utility assistance payments to reduce renters’ risk of eviction or housing instability.
The White House said more than $769 million has been provided for housing stability services by the Administration.
In 2022, the administration released a Housing Supply Action Plan, which set the goal of closing America’s housing supply shortfall in five years.
The administration has been making progress advancing a long-term goal of providing housing vouchers to all eligible households: through the 2022 and 2023 president’s Budgets, the administration has secured rental assistance to more than 100,000 households through the 2022 and 2033 appropriations bills and the American Rescue Plan.
And, recently, HUD published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on its efforts to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing.
As the housing market remains a major issue for renters, administration officials pointed out that inflation has reduced, but rental prices have continued to rise.
The actions are the latest by the Biden administration to curtail evictions and to help make housing more affordable.
Reportedly, tenant unions, community organizations, and legal advocacy groups have called for an all-out strategy, preparing an executive order for the Biden administration, advocating for a housing emergency declaration, and investigating rent control options.
Those plans, which involved several departments, were made to encourage federal authorities to look into alternative methods of lowering rental prices, the Washington Post reported.
Many ideas were dismissed as unrealistic by White House advisors and administration officials, and some questioned the legitimacy of such drastic measure, the newspaper stated.
The “Blueprint for a Renters Bill of Rights” emphasizes the importance of eviction prevention and diversion, the right to organize, and clear and fair contracts.
Over a third of the American population – 44 million households – rent their homes.
Before the pandemic, well over 2 million eviction fillings and roughly 900,000 evictions occurred annually – disproportionately affecting Black women and their children, administration officials stated.
Since then, rental housing has become less affordable with some landlords taking advantage of market conditions to pursue egregious rent increases.
“These announcements recognize there are responsible housing providers – large and small, national and local – willing to treat renters fairly, but it also holds accountable those who exploit market realities at the cost of renters’ housing access and stability,” officials stated.