Senate Bills Introduced to Provide Rent Relief & Establish Bipartisan Affordable Housing Task Force

Sponsored by Senator Todd Young (R-IN), and co-sponsored by Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO), Dean Heller (R-NV), Marco Rubio (R-FL), along with Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Doug Jones (D-AL), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Angus King (I-ME), S. 3231, the “Task Force on the Impact of the Affordable Housing Crisis Act,” was introduced in the U.S. Senate last week to better understand and respond to America’s affordable housing crisis by creating a bipartisan affordable housing task force. 

The 18-member bipartisan Task Force will evaluate and quantify the impact of affordable housing on other government programs and provide recommendations to Congress on how to use affordable housing to improve the effectiveness of other Federal programs and improve life outcomes. The Task Force will specifically:

1.       Evaluate and quantify the impact that a lack of affordable housing has on other areas of life and life outcomes for individuals living in the United States, including education, employment, income level, health, nutrition, access to transportation, and poverty level in the neighborhood in which individuals live, regional economic growth, and neighborhood and rural community stability and revitalization;

2.       Evaluate and quantify the costs incurred by other Federal, State, and local programs due to a lack of affordable housing;

3.       Make recommendations to Congress on how to use affordable housing to improve the effectiveness of other Federal programs and improve life outcomes for individuals living in the United States.

Members and two co-chairs of the Task Force will be appointed by the Leaders of the U.S. House and Senate. Task Force members will be academic researchers, experts in a field or policy area related to the purpose of the Task Force, or individuals who have experience with government programs related to the purpose.

Also last week, Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) was joined by cosponsors Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) in introducing S. 3250, the “Rent Relief Act,” which “would create a new, refundable tax credit to put more money in the pockets of families at a time when renters’ wages have remained stagnant and housing costs have increased rapidly.” The bill is similar to legislation introduced in the House by Representative Joe Crowley (D-NY) last year.

Under the Rent Relief Act, “the refundable tax credit will be available to individuals who live in rental housing and pay more than 30% of their gross income for the taxable year on their rent including utilities. Eligible individuals would qualify for the tax benefit by determining the total amount spent yearly on rent, taking into account the family’s annual income, and a rate of the federal government’s established fair market rent controls.” The proposal would also allow individuals living in government-subsidized housing to receive the tax benefit as well giving much-needed relief to low and moderate- income residents.