White House Announces Actions to Protect Renters and Promote Rental Affordability

Earlier today the White House released a fact sheet on the Biden – Harris Administration’s actions to protect renters and promote rental affordability. The actions fall into two major areas. The first is a Blueprint for a Renters Bill of Rights that will guide a number of federal agency actions to identify practices that unfairly treat tenants in and applicants for rental housing, including the Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Federal Housing Finance Agency, and the Departments of Justice and Housing and Urban Development. The blueprint is designed around a set of principles stating that renters should have access to housing that is safe, decent, and affordable; renters should have a clear and fair lease that has defined rental terms, rights, and responsibilities; federal, state, and local governments should do all they can to ensure renters know their rights and to protect renters from unlawful discrimination and exclusion; renters should have the freedom to organize without obstruction or harassment from their housing provider or property manager; and renters should be able to access resources that help them avoid eviction, ensure the legal process during an eviction proceeding is fair, and avoid future housing instability.

In addition, the White House statement says the administration is rallying state and local stakeholders and private housing actors to drive further action to protect renters in line with the blueprint. As part of this effort, the administration is launching the Resident-Centered Housing Challenge (Challenge), a call to action to housing providers and other stakeholders to strengthen practices and make their own independent commitments that improve the quality of life for renters. The Challenge, which will occur during the Spring of 2023, encourages state, local, tribal, and territorial governments to enhance existing policies and develop new ones that promote fairness and transparency in the rental market. Early commitments in support of the Challenge, which would affect more than 15 million rental units, include Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) and Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) policies that cap annual rental increases to 5 percent per year for federally or state subsidized affordable housing. Beginning in 2023, WHEDA’s policy applies to existing residents in properties utilizing state or federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits. PHFA applied this policy to its portfolio of 450 properties with PHFA funding in 2022. The White House statement lists other commitments by Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future, Realtor.com Rentals, the National Apartment Association, the National Association of Realtors, the Institute of Real Estate Management, and the National Multifamily Housing Council.

A statement NCSHA released in response to the White House’s announcement commends the Biden – Harris Administration for its continuing efforts to expand the supply of affordable housing and ensure low-income renters remain safely and affordably housed — objectives shared by all the nation’s state housing finance agencies. It also states that WHEDA’s and PHFA’s carefully tailored, state-specific policies were developed after detailed analysis, industry input, and public comment. It also says that broader federal efforts should follow a similar approach to balance the needs of all the stakeholders in the affordable rental housing system.

The administration says it welcomes additional commitments from interested stakeholders to take actions aligned with the blueprint principles and to join the Challenge for resident-centered housing practices. To join the Challenge, interested partners can complete this survey (RCHousingChallenge.

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