This article was written by Richa Goel, NAHRO’s Legislative Affairs Intern.
As rents skyrocket across the country, many Americans are struggling to find safe, affordable housing. On August 2, the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee held a hearing to discuss the impact of today’s housing market on renters and communities.
Chairman Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) opened by discussing the impact of housing shortages on renters:
“We’re 3.8 million homes short of what we need. Not a single state in the country has enough housing. For the lowest income renters, there are just 36 units affordable and available for every 100 renters who need them…this huge shortage of housing means renters have to make do with what they’ve got.”
Expert witnesses testified in front of the subcommittee, including:
- Professor Matthew Desmond, Maurice P. During Professor of Sociology and Director of The Eviction Lab, Princeton University
- Ms. Laura Brunner, President and CEO, Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority
- Ms. Rosanna Morey, Small Property Owner
- Ms. Darion Dunn, Managing Partner, Atlantica Properties
- Ms. Diane Yentel, President and CEO, National Low Income Housing Coalition
Desmond and Yentel highlighted supply challenges and advocated for government investment in affordable housing and rental assistance programs. Brunner discussed the impact of institutional investors on the housing market and her organization’s efforts to mitigate these effects. Dunn advocated for policies that strengthen tenant-landlord relationships. Morey recounted her lack of recourse when a tenant refused to move out or pay rent during the eviction moratorium.
Democrats and Republicans both addressed supply issues but disagreed on the causes of the affordable housing crisis. Ranking Member Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) blamed demand subsidies and inflation for increased rent and home prices. Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) focused on the impact of institutional investors on rents prices and the importance of Housing Choice Vouchers for low-income Americans.
The hearing also covered evictions, source of income discrimination, zoning laws, and the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. The recorded hearing and witness statements are available on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee website.