WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswomen Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Katie Porter (D-CA), along with Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), wrote to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) asking for a moratorium on evicting renters during the coronavirus pandemic. In their letter to HUD, the lawmakers requested a moratorium on evictions for individuals living in HUD-assisted rental housing, public housing, and for Housing Choice Voucher recipients, and called on HUD to provide Public Housing Authorities with directives regarding informing tenants about financial hardship exemptions.
“Individuals living in federally-assisted rental housing and public housing need the certainty that they can take care of the health of themselves and their loved ones, and follow public health directives, without fear of losing their homes,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter to HUD Secretary Ben Carson.
Congresswoman Pressley and Senators Warren, Merkley, Sanders also sent separate letters to the National Rental Home Council (NRHC) and the American Apartment Owners Association (AAOA), two of the largest trade associations for landlords in the country, requesting that they coordinate with their member partners to suspend evictions and offer deferred rent payment options with no late fees for tenants not able to pay rent as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Evicting families puts their health at risk, imposes trauma on and disrupts the education of their children, and exacerbates the risk of outbreak in their communities,” Warren, Merkley, Sanders and Pressley wrote in their letters to the NRHC and AAOA. “Even as government actors work to get the necessary resources to our neighbors experiencing homelessness, private sector partners should avoid exacerbating the problem by evicting tenants during a pandemic.”
Housing is a basic need for families as they seek to remain safe during this public health emergency, and families already living on the margin are now facing the threat of lost jobs and pay cuts due to the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19), putting many in danger of missing a rent payment. There is a clear, urgent public health need to stop evictions during this pandemic, because safe and stable housing gives families a place for social distancing, self-quarantine, or to take care of family members who may be sick. In addition, evictions could contribute to a strain on hospitals when medical facilities are at imminent risk of being overwhelmed by the pandemic.
Rep. Pressley is actively working to maximize the federal government’s assistance in combatting the spread and impact of COVID-19. Just yesterday, Rep. Pressley called on the White House Coronavirus Task to provide funding and resources to the nation’s 1,400 community health centers. Last month, Congresswoman Pressley sent a letter to the White House demanding that any COVID-19 vaccine or treatment be accessible, available, and affordable to all. Last week, she sent a letter to the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) demanding information on how BOP plans to limit the spread of the virus in federal prisons. She also sent a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calling on CDC to make good on its promise to make COVID-19 testing and treatment free for all. Additionally, she sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence pushing back on the public charge rule as to not deter immigrants from seeking COVID-19 testing.