Democratic reps urge House to address rental costs

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A group of House Democrats wrote a letter Tuesday urging their colleagues to address high rental costs in its government spending package.

Democrats of the Congressional Renters Caucus, led by Rep. Jimmy Gomez (Calif.), penned the letter to Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), saying that the House GOP’s reliance on continuing resolutions was “inadequate” in addressing the rental housing crisis. The members are calling on the House to increase funding for rental assistance in the spending package.

“Merely maintaining federal rental assistance funding at current levels while rents continue to soar will result in fewer Americans being able to access federal rental assistance,” the lawmakers wrote. “Continuing Resolutions that provide no additional funds to adjust for the rising price of rental housing fail to meet the scope of this crisis or the needs of renters and result in severe cuts to rental assistance in real terms.”

The lawmakers cited the country’s “rental housing crisis” as a reason for their demands, emphasizing that there is “inadequate support” for rental assistance programs. They emphasized their concern that the current funding proposals fail to address the issues, adding that they could further reduce the availability of rental assistance.

The Democrats wrote that they founded the Congressional Renters Caucus to break down barriers to renting, expand federal rental assistance programs and make sure rental housing is “safe, high quality and affordable.”

“We are deeply alarmed by even weaker support for federal rental assistance proposed in House Republican [fiscal 2024] legislation, which not only shows an apparent unwillingness to honor the debt ceiling agreement but proposes what effectively amount to deep cuts to federal rental assistance compared to increased costs for existing assistance,” the group of lawmakers said. 

“We urge you to reject these extreme proposals that would contribute to the growing unaffordability of rent nationwide and represent a catastrophic slashing of resources for at risk households that need them most,” they added.

The House voted Tuesday to approve a short-term funding measure that would prevent a government shutdown.

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