Portman, Bennet Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Tackle the Eviction Crisis

December 12, 2019 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) today introduced the Eviction Crisis Act to address the national housing crisis crippling millions of Americans who are struggling to rise into the middle class. The bipartisan legislation will shed light on the root causes of the eviction crisis, reduce preventable evictions, and limit the devastation to families when eviction is unavoidable. 

“Stable housing is a vital part of getting people back on their feet. I’ve long worked on efforts to address homelessness and increase the supply of housing and I’m proud to partner with Senator Bennet on this new bipartisan initiative. This legislation will help prevent avoidable evictions, reduce homelessness, and make it easier for people to escape poverty by keeping a roof over their heads,” said Senator Portman.

“Today in America, an unexpected illness, a car accident, or a family emergency can lead to a family being evicted from their home and falling into a cycle of poverty that lasts for years,” said Senator Bennet. “The hardship caused by eviction is agonizing for the hundreds of thousands of American families evicted every year – and it’s damaging to our communities. As a former school superintendent, I saw kids unable to stay awake in class because they didn’t have a stable place to sleep the night before. And I’ve heard from many hard-working Coloradans about how one misstep led to their lives falling apart. Our Eviction Crisis Act will put in place bipartisan measures that both prevent eviction and limit the harm when it is unavoidable.”  

“Evictions start with the loss of a home and often end with job loss, depression, and becoming further ingrained in the cycle of poverty. Indiana is home to three cities with some of the highest eviction rates in the United States and this legislation takes a number of important steps to work with and support tenants, landlords, and municipalities to help avoid the process of putting another family on the street,” said U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-IN), cosponsor of the Eviction Crisis Act. 

“Eviction isn’t just a consequence of poverty; it’s a cause of poverty. Yet we allow millions of Americans to face the threat of eviction each year. Families with children are at particularly high risk of eviction. Many evicted families lose their home and possessions, often falling into homelessness. Research shows that eviction thwarts economic mobility and is linked to long-term negative health outcomes. Passing the Eviction Crisis Act would be a big step forward, deepening our understanding of the problem and preventing families from the devastating consequences of displacement. Everyone needs a safe and affordable home. I commend Senators Bennet and Portman for their efforts and look forward to working with them to pass this bill into law,” said Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City. 

“I applaud Senators Michael Bennet and Rob Portman for their leadership in introducing legislation to create new tools to help end America’s ongoing eviction epidemic, which most severely impacts the lowest-income seniors, people with disabilities, families with children, and other individuals. If enacted, the “Eviction Crisis Act” would create a new Emergency Housing Assistance Fund – a policy solution developed and advanced by NLIHC’s Opportunity Starts at Home campaign – to extend an emergency cushion to families in crisis. Together [with the legislation’s new data collection and outreach initiatives], the bill would help low-income renters avert the downward spiral of housing instability and homelessness. I urge Congress to quickly pass this bill,” said Diane Yentel, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. 

“The Eviction Crisis Act is an historic response our country’s eviction epidemic. Through comprehensive data collection and emergency rental assistance, the bill will combat the devastating impacts of evictions on families and children and create a foundation for more effective prevention in the future. We are grateful to Senators Bennet and Portman for addressing this crucial area of U.S. housing policy and working to save families from eviction and homelessness,” said Shamus Roller, Executive Director, National Housing Law Project.  

“The Coalition on Homelessness & Housing in Ohio (COHHIO) enthusiastically endorses the Eviction Crisis Act and the creation of the Emergency Assistance Fund designed to prevent unnecessary evictions. Evictions in many Ohio cities are hitting record levels as housing costs are growing increasingly out of reach, especially for those with the lowest incomes. We all now understand that evictions are not only the result of – but also a cause of – deeper poverty leading to increasing homelessness.  This legislation has the promise of helping to reverse that tide. We appreciate the leadership of Senators Rob Portman and Michael Bennet working together to tackle this stubborn problem,” said Bill Faith, Executive Director of COHHIO and state partner of the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign.  

Adjusting for inflation, the median rent payment has risen 61 percent since 1960 while median renter income grew only five percent. In 2016, 2.3 million eviction filings were made in courthouses across the United States—a rate of four every minute. That same year, one in 50 renters was evicted from his or her home. This affordable housing crisis has crippled economic security for families and placed enormous costs on the nation’s health care system, courts, schools, and local governments.

In Ohio, six cities also ranked in the nation’s 100 “Top Evicting Areas:” Akron (ranked #24, with a 6.06 percent eviction rate), Dayton (#26, 5.94 percent), Toledo (#30, 5.63 percent), Cincinnati (#46, 4.7 percent), Columbus (#52, 4.55 percent), and Cleveland (#53, 4.53 percent). 

In Colorado, five cities ranked in the nation’s 100 “Top Evicting Areas” by eviction rate in 2016 (i.e. the number of evictions per 100 renters): Aurora (ranked #33, with a 5.52 percent eviction rate), Thornton (#48, 4.64 percent), Colorado Springs (#64, 4.19 percent), Westminster (#93, 3.16 percent), and Lakewood (#94, 3.15 percent). In Denver eviction cases, 90 percent of landlords are represented by lawyers, compared to just two percent of tenants—consistent with nationwide trends.  

The Eviction Crisis Act will: 

Improve Data and Analysis on Evictions

  • Creates a national database to standardize data and track evictions, in order to better inform policy decisions.
  • Establishes a Federal Advisory Committee on Eviction Research to make recommendations related to data collection, as well as policies and practices that can prevent evictions or mitigate their consequences.
  • Authorizes funding for a comprehensive study to track evictions, analyze landlord-tenant law, and assess varying factors in urban, suburban, and rural areas. 

Reduce Preventable Evictions and Mitigate Eviction-Related Consequences

Co-invest in state and local government programs:

  • Creates a program to fund state and local governments expanding the use of landlord-tenant community courts and increasing the presence of social services representatives for tenants, which help both tenants and landlords avoid the high cost of eviction.
  • Establishes an Emergency Assistance Fund to provide financial assistance and housing stability-related services to eviction-vulnerable tenants.

Support increased legal representation for tenants:

  • Expresses support for substantially increasing funding for the Legal Services Corporation, a public-private partnership that provides legal services to low-income Americans. 

Improve Information on Tenant Screening Reports

  • Requires consumer reporting agencies to provide consumers with tenant screening reports when they are requested as part of a rental application process, so tenants can contest and correct inaccurate or incomplete information.
  • When a court rules in favor of a tenant in an eviction proceeding, requires those judgments and eviction filings related to that proceeding to be removed from tenant screening reports.  

The following resources for the Eviction Crisis Act are available below:

The following national organizations have endorsed the Eviction Crisis Act: Pultizer Prize recipient Matt Desmond, NAACP, National Low Income Housing Coalition, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), National Alliance to End Homelessness, National Education Association, National League of Cities, Habitat for Humanity, National Association of Community Health Centers, National Association of Social Workers, National Housing Law Project, National Women’s Law Center, Funders Together to End Homelessness, National NeighborWorks Association, Coalition on Human Needs, Children’s Health Watch/Boston Medical Center, JustLeadership USA, National Association of Social Workers, National Housing Law Project, Funders Together to End Homelessness, National NeighborWorks Association, National Women's Law Center, Public Justice, Stout, Brookings Metro, Coalition on Human Needs, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), National Housing Trust, National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance, Housing Action Illinois, National Association of Local Housing Finance Agencies, National Legal Aid & Defender Association, National Association for County Community and Economic Developments, National Church Residences, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Housing Task Force, Unity Health Care, Housing on Merit, National Coalition for the Homeless, Family Promise, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Community Stabilization Project, RESULTS, Greater Syracuse Tenants Network, Food Research & Action Center, Community of Hope, National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, National Health Care for the Homeless Council, National Community Action Partnership, Prosperity Now, Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, National Nurse-Led Care Consortium, Mayors and CEOs for US Housing Investment, Legal Aid Association of California (LAAC), Metropolitan Tenants Organization. 

The following Ohio organizations have endorsed the Eviction Crisis Act: The Affordable Housing Trust (Columbus), YWCA Columbus, Access Center for Independent Living (Dayton), Ecumenical Shelter Network of Lake County, Inc. (Painesville), Barbara Poppe and Associates (Columbus), Phase One Recovery for Women (Cleveland), Cincinnati Development Fund, Ohio Domestic Violence Network (Columbus), Columbus Works, LISC (Cincinnati), OHIO Capital Corporation for Housing (Columbus), Clermont County Community Services (Batavia), Ohio Conference of Community Development (Urbana), St. Mary Development Corp. (Dayton), Community Shelter Board (Columbus), Ohio Fair Lending (Cleveland), Homeport (Columbus), Ohio CDC Association (Columbus), Great Lakes Community Action Partnership (Fremont), Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, Supports to Encourage Low-income Families (Hamilton), Caracole (Cincinnati), Ohio Poverty Law Center (Columbus), Kaleidoscope Youth Center (Columbus), Strategic Opportunities (Bexley), Bethany House Services (Cincinnati), Caring Kitchen (Urbana), Daybreak, Inc. (Dayton), Lighthouse Youth Services (Cincinnati), and the Nord Center (Lorain). 

###