Harris reintroduces rent relief legislation

Proposal would provide monthly tax credit to renters

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-CA, has introduced a new version of the Rent Relief Act, a sweeping rent reform proposal that seeks to help Americans lessen the burden of finding affordable housing, especially at a time when rents keep rising.

If passed, the bill will create a new refundable tax credit for renters who spend at least 30% of their gross income on rent and utilities. According to a release detailing the features of the revitalized bill, the tax credit will be available to families earning up to $100,000.

“Housing is a human right, and we must act now to end the affordable housing crisis and provide relief to working families who are worried about making each month’s rent,” Harris said in a statement. “Right now, nearly half of Americans couldn’t afford an emergency $400 expense – these families need help now. This is about more than just economics – it’s about the basic security and dignity that every American deserves to have in their own home.”

The bill is a newer version of a previous one Harris introduced in July of last year. According to an article from the Mercury News, an analysis of the plan’s previous version by the Columbia Center on Poverty and Social Policy found it would cost $94 billion a year and help lift 7.8 million Americans out of poverty. 

“The National Housing Law Project is grateful to Senator Harris for leading a conversation about the incredible burden that high rents place on many families. A tax credit for renters would be a tremendous step towards addressing the problem,” said Shamus Roller, executive director of the National Housing Law Project.

The democratic presidential candidate is leading the bill in the Senate, while Reps. Jimmy Gomez, D-CA, Danny Davis, D-IL, and Rep. Scott Peters, D-CA, are leading it through the House of Representatives.

"I applaud Senator Harris and Congressmembers Danny Davis, Scott Peters, and Jimmy Gomez for their leadership in introducing this innovative, bold proposal, which would help struggling families who today face impossible choices between paying rent and meeting their other basic needs, including putting groceries on the table and taking care of their health,” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “A new tax credit for renters – like the one proposed today – could transform lives, providing millions of the lowest income people with the breadth of opportunities that start with an affordable home – opportunities to climb the economic ladder, improve their health, and allow children to do better in school."

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