Padilla Co-Leads Legislation with Senator Warren, Rep. Cori Bush to Protect Renters During COVID-19 Pandemic

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) joined Congresswoman Cori Bush (D-Mo.), Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and over three dozen of their colleagues in introducing the Keeping Renters Safe Act of 2021 to enact an urgently needed nationwide eviction moratorium. In direct response to the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down President Biden’s initial eviction moratorium on the grounds that the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) lacked the statutory authority to mandate such a moratorium, the Keeping Renters Safe Act of 2021 would clarify that the HHS Secretary does permanently retain the authority to implement an eviction moratorium in the interests of public health.

California has over one million renters who have fallen behind on payments. With the state’s eviction moratorium expiring on September 30, additional federal eviction protections will go a long way in complementing California’s statewide and local efforts to distribute rental assistance. Last week, California’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program hit several key milestones, including surpassing $1 billion in obligated funds and over $520 million in expenditures. This bill would continue to give California time to distribute these federal funds, which are essential to keeping individuals and families in their homes. Last month, Senator Padilla also joined Rep. Bushon the steps of the Capitol in support of extending the national eviction moratorium.

“We continue to face a historic housing and homelessness crisis, which has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Senator Alex Padilla. “In California alone, over 161,000 people experience homelessness each night – including families with young children, veterans, and victims of domestic violence. That is why I am proud to co-lead the Keeping Renters Safe Act of 2021, which will ensure people in California and across the country are protected from unreasonable and dangerous evictions in the middle of a pandemic.”

“Housing is a human right, not a bargaining chip to let fall between bureaucratic cracks,” said Congresswoman Cori Bush. “Nearly 40 million Americans have tested positive for COVID-19. Over 670,000 people have died of this virus, and countless are living permanently disabled from its aftereffects. As the Delta variant continues to force individuals to quarantine, close schools, and stifle businesses, we must do all we can to save lives. That starts with keeping every person safely housed. The Keeping Renters Safe of 2021 will save lives and give us more time: time for renters to receive financial assistance, time for the economy to fully recover, and time for the pandemic to finally come to an end. I’m humbled to introduce this critical, actionable legislation with Senator Warren and so many of my colleagues.”

“This pandemic isn’t over, and we have to do everything we can to protect renters from the harm and trauma of needless eviction, which upends the lives of those struggling to get back on their feet,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren. “Pushing hundreds of thousands of people out of their homes will only exacerbate this public health crisis, and cause economic harm to families, their communities, and our overall recovery. Congress must pass the Keeping Renters Safe Act of 2021 to put the eviction moratorium back in place and clarify that HHS has the authority to protect renters throughout this public health crisis. Safe housing saves lives.”

The Keeping Renters Safe Act of 2021 will protect renters from eviction and curb the spread of COVID-19 by:

  • Amending section 361 of the Public Health Service Act to grant permanent authority to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to implement a national residential eviction moratorium in response to COVID-19 that:
  • Must be automatic, without requiring individuals to apply for coverage.
  • Applies to all residential eviction filings, hearings, judgments, and execution of judgments.
  • Allows the Secretary to establish appropriate moratorium exceptions necessary to protect the health and safety of others.
  • Remains in effect at least 60 days following the conclusion of the public health emergency.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of renters found themselves behind on rent for the first time in their lives, laid off from their jobs, or found their hours cut during lockdowns. The federal, state, and local eviction moratoria were mandated because lawmakers at every level recognized the dire urgency of preventing millions of people from being thrown out onto the street in the middle of a deadly global pandemic.

Since then, the majority of those eviction moratoria have lapsed, stimulus checks have come and gone, and unemployment benefits have expired. Yet, a significant portion of Americans continue to experience devastating levels of financial hardship. The Keeping Renters Safe Act of 2021 helps fulfill our promise to help renters during the pandemic.

A full text of the bill can be found here.

A one-pager on the bill can be found here.

In the U.S. Senate, the bill is co-sponsored by: Senators Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.).

In the House, the bill is co-sponsored by: Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-Washington), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Juan Vargas (D-Calif.), Jesús G. “Chuy” García (D-Ill.), Kaiali‘i Kahele (D-Hawaii), Danny K. Davis (D-Ill), Frederica S. Wilson (D-Fla.), Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), James P. McGovern (D-Mass.), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Mark Takano (D-Calif.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.), Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), Andy Levin (D-Mich.), Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), Melanie Stansbury (D-N.M.), Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.), Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), Nikema Williams (D-Ga.).

The bill is endorsed by 81 organizations: A Way Home America, Action Center on Race and the Economy, Affordable Housing Network of Santa Clara County, ArchCity Defenders, Inc., Be:Seattle, Beyond Housing, Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, Bull City Tenants United, CA Renters Caucus, Charles House’, Citizen Action of New York, Community Alliance of Tenants, Community Action for Safe Apartments, Community Solutions, Covenant House, Detroit Action, Down Home NC, Empower Missouri, Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, Florida Rising, FreeSource, Funders Together to End Homelessness, HOMES Campaign Delaware, Hometown Action, Hoosier Action, Horizon Housing Development Company, Housing Justice Project, HousingLOUISIANA, Human Impact Partners, Indivisible, Inquilinxs Unidxs por Justicia (United Renters for Justice), Jane Addams Senior Caucus, JustFix, Justice Democrats, KC Tenants, KY Tenants, Los Angeles Community Action Network, Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center, Make the Road Nevada, Metropolitan Development Council, Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council, Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, National Center for Healthy Housing, National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, National Coalition for Housing Justice, National Coalition for the Homeless, National Education Association, National Health Care for the Homeless Council, National Homelessness Law Center, National Housing Law Project, National Low Income Housing Coalition, National Women’s Law Center, New Jersey Citizen Action, New Jersey Tenants Organization, ONE Northside, One Westlake, Our Revolution, Palo Alto Renters’ Association, People’s Action, PUSH Buffalo, Progressive Leadership Alliance Of Nevada, Right to Counsel NYC Coalition, Riverside Edgecombe Neighborhood Association, Rent Zero Kansas, RESULTS, Root Cause Research Center, Safety Net Project: Urban Justice Center, Show Up for Racial Justice, Social Security Works, South Carolina Housing Justice Network, Street Vendor Project: Urban Justice Center, Sunrise Movement, Tenants Political Action Committee, Unemployed Workers United, Unified Citizens, Inc., United Vision for Idaho, Western Regional Advocacy Project, Westside Health Authority, The Women’s Building, Working Families Party, Youth Collaboratory.


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