Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Provide $100B in Emergency Rental Assistance

House Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Representative Denny Heck (D-WA) recently announced the introduction of the Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act of 2020, which would create a $100 billion emergency rental assistance fund to ensure that lower-income households remain housed during the coronavirus pandemic. Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is introducing the Senate version of the bill.

The bill would use a COVID-19-version of HUD’s Emergency Solutions Grant program bill to provide rental assistance to households. The bill would allow state and local grantees to:

  • Provide short- and medium-term rental assistance for up to 24 months;
  • Cover up to six months of back rent and late fees; and
  • Pay for housing relocation or stabilization activities such as utility deposits and payments, moving costs, and application fees.

Renters would apply for assistance with the agency or organization that the state or local grantee has selected to administer the program. Owners would not be able to directly apply for rental assistance under the program, but once a renter qualifies for assistance, the administering agency would send the payment directly to the owner. The renter, the landlord, and the administering agency would sign a rental assistance agreement stipulating the terms of the assistance. The funds would serve households with low incomes (incomes below 80 percent of area median income), but the HUD Secretary would have the discretion, under certain circumstances, to allow use of funds for households with incomes up to 120 percent of area median income.