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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Reports: Low Income Renters at Risk of Homelessness, Foreclosure-Related Evictions
State Housing Assistance Programs are Uneven and Inadequate
Federal Government Should Act to Assist Low Income Families
WASHINGTON - January 14 - State governments have not filled the gap left by the federal government's lagging commitment to decent housing for every American, and the problem is likely to get worse as rental markets become tighter and states find themselves in ever-more precarious fiscal conditions. These are the findings of two new reports from NLIHC.
"These reports offer further evidence of the inadequacy of the patchwork housing safety net in the United States," said Danilo Pelletiere, NLIHC research director. "Unless the federal government takes action, the problem is only going to get worse in the current economic climate as demand for services grows and states' fiscal health deteriorates. States cannot bear this burden alone."
Housing Assistance for Low Income Families: States do not Fill the Gap reports that although states made limited progress in assisting low income families from 2001 to 2007, the response remained uneven and inadequate. Further, few will have the capacity to increase or even maintain new programs in an increasingly dire fiscal climate. Forty-two states and the District of Columbia offer a total of 112 programs offering some type of rental assistance, whether long-term, transitional, or emergency. Eight states have no rental assistance programs at all.
Renters in Foreclosure: Defining the Problem, Identifying the Solutions summarizes research conducted by NLIHC to demonstrate the magnitude of the housing and foreclosure crisis on renters. While it is common to think of foreclosures as affecting those who are considered homeowners, in many cases a house in foreclosure is occupied by a renter, who may not even know his landlord has fallen behind on mortgage payments.
Key findings from Renters in Foreclosure include:
* More than 20% of the properties facing foreclosure nationwide are rentals.
* Because rental properties often are home to multiple families, renters make up roughly 40% of the families facing eviction.
* Very low income families and low income and minority communities bear the brunt of rental foreclosures.
Advocates including NLIHC have called on Congress and the incoming Administration to take the needs of low income families, especially those that are renting, into consideration when building an economic stimulus package. NLIHC has called on Congress to provide:
· $10 billion for the National Housing Trust Fund over 2009-2010 to rehabilitate or build 100,000 rental homes for the lowest income households using green standards.
· $2 billion in Emergency Shelter Grants, for homelessness prevention and housing assistance to prevent low income renter households from becoming homeless, and to rapidly re-house those that do lose their homes; 400,000 households would be assisted.
· 400,000 new housing vouchers over 2009-2010, which would assist another 4000,000 low income families afford modest rental housing in what is likely to be a tightening market.
· Legal protections for tenants in properties subject to foreclosure, including the requirement that existing leases and contracts be honored by new owners and in the absence of a lease, renters be provided with at least 90 days' notice before eviction.
In addition, to ease the persistent affordability problems faced by households with low incomes, NLIHC has asked that an economic recovery package include:
· $5 billion in public housing capital funds.
· $3 billion for the preservation of HUD and rural federally assisted housing.
· $110 million in community development block grants for hurricane recovery efforts in Alabama.
"Allocating federal recovery dollars to housing will do two things: help those who are suffering the most in this recession, and stimulate the economy through construction and rehabilitation," said NLIHC President Sheila Crowley.
Housing Assistance for Low Income Families: States do not Fill the Gap: Updates research first conducted by NLIHC in 2001 and is based on a survey of state rental assistance programs conducted in 2007.
The report can be found at: http://www.nlihc.org/doc/PATCHWORK.pdf
Renters in Foreclosure: Since the fall of 2007, NLIHC has been researching and tracking the situation of renters in foreclosure. The report provides a summary of the findings from this project in 2008.
The report is available at: http://www.nlihc.org/template/page.cfm?id=159