Cancel Rent

Mr. President & Congress;

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We are a collective of public housing residents, jobless workers, unhoused people, and tenants. We demand immediate action to protect tenants and unhoused communities, prevent unprecedented displacement, and to guard against disastrous, 2008-style real estate speculation. We must address the current coronavirus housing crisis, and set our country on a path towards guarantee housing as a human right.


COVID-19 RELIEF

An expanded eviction moratorium, including a ban on all eviction filings, summons, hearings, judgments, and writs of execution;

  • The moratorium must go further than what passed in the HEROES Act by including all eviction types, not just those for non-payment of rent;
  • The moratorium must be automatic, not placing the burden on the tenants to apply for protection;
  • The moratorium must not allow for criminal prosecution as the result of mistakes or omissions on any declaration;
  • The moratorium should not come with an arbitrary end date but rather triggered by a set of economic and public health indicators.

Emergency housing for everyone in congregate housing (shelter, jail, prison, youth detention center, group or nursing home), fully accessible to people with disabilities, and individuals, families, and people who want to stay with a roommate or aide. Such shelter should be guaranteed until a safe, effective vaccine is available to all.

Rent and mortgage cancellation (H.R. 6515 The Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act), including rent and mortgage payment suspension for the duration of the crisis; a relief fund for property owners, conditioned on a set of critical tenant protections; and, an affordable housing acquisition fund. This policy should also include debt erasure for the months of accumulated rental arrears.

  • If rental assistance (like the $100 billion funds in the HEROES Act) remains the favored policy, it must be amended to include the following principles from rent cancellation:
  • Universal access, including for immigrants regardless of documentation status, participants in the informal economy (i.e. food vendors, home care workers, etc.), and others for whom means-testing may be prohibitive;
  • Conditions for landlords who benefit from the assistance funds (see H.R. 6515 for a thorough list), including at least a five-year rent freeze and compliance with other critical tenant protections such as just-cause evictions, a ban on source of income discrimination, and more;
  • Cancellation of rent, funding for capital repairs, and further administrative relief for Public Housing Authorities, who lack the capacity to perform systems-wide recertifications to address significant numbers of rental adjustment reviews due to tenants’ loss of income.

ECONOMIC RECOVERY

  • An affordable housing acquisition fund to protect against real estate speculation, including flexibility for cities, counties, states, and housing authorities to use rental assistance funds toward down-payments on distressed properties to be used for permanently affordable housing; and/or
  • A Social Housing Development Authority to create lasting solutions for the housing crisis by purchasing distressed real estate, particularly multi-family rentals, and financing its transfer to the social housing sector (such as cooperatives, non-profits, community land trusts, and public housing).

HOMES GUARANTEE

  • We believe that everyone should have safe, accessible, sustainable, and permanently affordable housing: a Homes Guarantee. Our long-term vision for the Homes Guarantee calls for:
  • At least 12 million social housing units (permanently off the private market and not available for speculation, see H.R. 5244 The Homes for All Act of 2019) and an end to homelessness;
  • $150 billion+ investment in existing public housing;
  • A national tenants bill of rights (including just cause, universal rent control, universal accessibility) and a $200 billion Community Control and Anti Displacement Fund;
  • Reparations for centuries of racist housing policies; and,
  • An end to land/real estate speculation.

To: Mr. President & Congress;
From: [Your Name]

Our nation’s families have been put on hold for far too long. They have been waiting for Congress to pass a COVID-Relief package that is truly representative of their needs. Our families are suffering! Thousands of the most vulnerable populations are on the verge of being displaced from their homes - all while fighting a global pandemic.

We urge you to do what's right and take immediate action to protect tenants and unhoused communities, prevent unprecedented displacement, and guard our communities against a disastrous, 2008-style real estate speculation.

We must address the current coronavirus housing crisis, and set our country on a path towards guarantee housing as a human right.