Congress Holds Hearings on Evictions and Native Housing

On Tuesday, July 27, Congress held two housing-related hearings in the House of Representatives. The Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis held a hearing on “Oversight of Pandemic Evictions.” Then, the House Financial Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development and Insurance held a hearing on “NAHASDA Reauthorization.”

Oversight of Pandemic Evictions

Chairman James Clyburn (D-SC) opened the evictions hearing by reviewing the plight of America’s renters during the COVID-19 pandemic. He explained, “One of the most pressing challenges has been ensuring that the loss of a job did not also mean the loss of a roof over their family’s head.” Ranking Member Steve Scalise (R-LA) then noted the slow distribution of Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) funds and cautioned against appropriating additional funding.

Witnesses included representatives from the Private Equity Stakeholder Project, National Low Income Housing Coalition, and BakerRipley. One witness testified about her experience as a renter during the pandemic. After losing her customer service job due to COVID-19, she fell behind on rent by one month and received eviction threats from her landlord even during the CDC eviction moratorium.

Committee members questioned the witnesses about several topics, including ERAP distribution, the eviction moratoriums, predatory corporate landlords, and pathways to provide housing assistance as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic. The recorded hearing and witness statements are available online.

NAHASDA Reauthorization

The Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Reauthorization Act (NAHASDA) hearing focused in part on the housing needs of freedmen in Native American communities. Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) stated:

“The legacy of land and cultural dispossession has contributed to Native people experiencing, of course, high levels of chronic homelessness, over-crowding, and poor housing conditions. We also know that a key determinant of housing access on reservations is tribal citizenship, which is one of the barriers faced by descendants of Black Native American Freedmen today.”

Witnesses from the Cherokee Nation, Cook Inlet Housing Authority, Descendants of Freedman of the Five Tribes Association, National American Indian Housing Council, and the Native CDFI Network provided expert testimony. In general, the witnesses urged Congress to improve and reauthorize NAHASDA as a step toward addressing housing issues in Native communities. The recorded hearing and witness statements are available online.

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