Tenants Call on Biden to Act as Rent Increases Reach a 35-Year High

President Joe Biden and vulnerable Democrats had reason to celebrate the cooling off of inflation and the fact that it remained stable during July. On Wednesday, however, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released their consumer price index. It reported that rent costs increased by 6.3 percent in the past year. This is the largest increase in 35-years and a clear indication that the housing crisis that was exacerbated by the COVID pandemic persists.

The rent inflation indexThis represents landlords raising rents on tenants; it does NOT include new lease prices when tenants move. Monthly reportApartment List, a company that tracks rental data found that rents increased by 12.3 per cent over the past twelve months when price increases in new leases were included. This is down from a peak of 18 percent in January. The median apartment cost in the United States is $1,080. reached $2,000It was June for the first ever time.

Despite billions of federal dollars in federal assistance to landlords and renters, eviction ratesAfter the expiration of last year’s moratoriums on kick-kicking people during a health crisis, the number of people living in cities across the nation rose to pre-pandemic levels by 2022.

Housing advocates believe corporate landlords are unacceptable. knowingly profiting off the miseryTenants are suffering from high prices for food, school supplies, and health care. However, Congress is unlikely to act. Senate Democrats passed the Inflation Reduction Act this week. It would have $370 billion invested in climate, energy, and environmental justice programs. However, it is not. include provisionsHousing that is affordable is our focus.

Rev. Rhonda Thomas, a faith-based racial justice organizer in Florida, said the housing and climate crises are colliding, and policy makers must consider the “people who have suffered the most” from these intersecting emergencies as the nation transitions to cleaner energy.

“In Florida, the climate emergency has created a housing crisis that, again, adversely impacts communities of color,” Thomas said in a statement released by a coalition of Black women in response to the legislation this week. “Housing prices have skyrocketed even as wages have stagnated.”

Instead of focusing on Congress many housing advocates are focusing on the Biden Administration, which they claim can regulate the rental sector through a number federal agencies. A coalition of more than 220 housing- and community-based organizations demanded that Biden declare an emergency housing situation ahead of Tuesday’s inflation data. outlined a planFor federal action that does not require Congress to approve.

According to the coalition, the Federal Trade Commission could, for example, issue a regulation that defines excessive rent increases as an unjust business practice. It could also enforce the standard through administrative and lawsuits. The Securities and Exchange Commission may impose disclosure requirements when publicly traded companies raise rent on tenants. Additionally, regulators can investigate new bundled security backed with rent and mortgage payments. are a hot new thing on Wall Street.

This federal action could hold landlords responsible to the public, but it would not directly help struggling renters. The administration could look into rent controls for landlords involved in federal housing programs. However, this type of regulation would only benefit the lowest-income tenants.

Rent is often the largest line item on household budgets. On average, families spend $12,000 per month. 35 percentAccording to federal data.

Rent increases can be a difficult decision for households with low or fixed incomes. They mean that they have to choose between paying the landlord or buying essentials, according Michael Mitchell, a director at Groundwork Collaborative, a Washington D.C.-based thinktank.

“For the median tenant in one of the 50 largest American cities, you are paying $200 more now than you were last year, and that’s money people can’t spend on groceries and school supplies,” Mitchell told reporters on Thursday. “When the alternative is homelessness, it really puts tenants in a bind.”

This is the story Vanessa Armour knows all too well. Armour, a retired postal worker and activist living in Las Vegas, Nevada was excited about the possibility of spending her retirement at her apartment. However, her landlord has tacked on fees for “assessments,” Armour said, effectively raising her $1,100 rent by more than $200 per month. Armour stated that she was forced to quit retirement to take a part time job because her fixed income was not enough to pay for basic necessities like food and medication.

“Should I live in the dark, skip my medications, or do I just not eat?” Armour said during a Zoom call on Thursday. “I worked so damn hard for 38 years. I should be able to enjoy my retirement.”

Armour, a leader of Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada said that she and other advocates met with Sandra Thompson, the deputy Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Armour, like millions of others, lives in a property that receives federal loans under Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac programs. Thompson is the top regulator for these programs. They are designed to keep prices down and allow liquidity in the housing sector.

Thompson pledged to investigate her agency’s power to tie federal financing for landlords and property managers to new protection for tenants against harmful rent increases, according to Armour. The White House announced a planMay will see the introduction of new infrastructure funding and zoning changes to increase housing supply. Yet the question of whether federal agencies will muster their regulatory power to challenge landlords and tackle rising rents — which are undoubtedly on the minds of voters — remains to be answered.