Calls grow on Capitol Hill to help renters

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WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — A group of Democratic lawmakers that call themselves the “Renters Caucus” introduced a new agenda this week on Capitol Hill aimed at helping renters.

California Congressman Jimmy Gomez says their plan that will help millions of Americans pay their rent.

“The start of a new era of housing policy in Washington. An era where we put renters at the heart of federal housing strategy,” Gomez said.

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The group announced 15 bills they say will lower costs and increase the number of affordable rental homes.

“A lot of our efforts at the federal government and across the country have been too small, too slow and too inefficient,” Gomez said.

One of those bills is Vermont Congresswoman Becca Balint’s “Community Housing Act.” It would spend $500 billion to build new housing.

She says a bigger supply will drive rents down.

“It will keep renters in their homes, and keeps rent affordable for the long term,” Rep. Balint said.

Other legislation aims to limit evictions, reform zoning laws and provide more rental assistance.

A 2023 report from Moody’s says the average renter now pays 30% of their income on rent – the highest it’s been in 20 years.

But conservative groups say these bills are a bad idea.

“The recent slew of progressive proposals on affordable housing will actually exacerbate the problem,” Heritage Foundation Economic Research Fellow Joel Griffith said.

Griffith says federal subsidies are what made housing costs too high in the first place.

“What I hope the next Congress will do, possibly with a friendly administration, is to really start reforming these government-sponsored enterprises. We need to shrink their footprint in the marketplace,” Griffith said.

Congressman Gomez says he’s talking with Republicans to try to gain bipartisan support. He says the caucus is open to anyone with solutions.

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