Key Takeaways from the Biden-Harris Administration’s Spotlight on Plight of Renters
On January 25, the White House unveiled a Blueprint for a Renters Bill of Rights along with new actions the Biden-Harris administration will undertake to protect renters and promote rental affordability. These actions are meant to coordinate efforts to explore and address unfair practices in the rental market. Such actions could include stronger renter protections and limits on unreasonable rent increases and encourage ongoing engagement with diverse tenant groups and advocates. Below are some key points and analysis from this White House Blueprint that impact RESULTS housing advocacy.
Takeaway 1: An inclusive table informed the Blueprint, but it lacks “teeth:” Organizers, activists, and other advocates from campaigns like the Homes Guarantee were instrumental in shoring up this level of commitment to renters from the White House. These actions highlight a role the federal government can play to address the affordable housing crisis. Actions like this by the Biden-Harris administration have limits – for one, the Blueprint is only a statement of guiding principles; it is not government policy and compliance is not required. Additionally, these actions only apply to federal agencies. Renters need and deserve a more comprehensive set of solutions from Congress and state and local governments.
Takeaway 2: Relief for rent-burdened households is a priority for the Biden-Harris administration but nothing in the Blueprint makes an immediate difference: Renters will not feel the effects of Blueprint actions anytime soon, making RESULTS’ work with Congress to address the urgent housing affordability crisis urgent. The Blueprint makes a recommendation with strong alignment to our work: That rent-burdened households should not pay more than 30 percent of their household income toward the costs of housing. The White House explicitly acknowledged how rents rise much faster than wages and how rent affordability worsened in the last three years, forcing “many Americans to make difficult trade-offs in their household budgets between food, healthcare, and education because ‘the rent eats first’.” Rent affordability will continue to be a major concern for many households in the United States. Our work to create the political will for a renter tax credit can make a meaningful difference in the lives of millions of renters across the country. And based on this Blueprint, the Biden-Harris Administration could be an ally in this effort.