For Immediate Release
NLIHC Applauds Passage of Crucial Renter Protection, Homeless Amendments in Senate Housing Bill
WASHINGTON - The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) applauds the Senate for passing crucial amendments to S. 896, the "Helping Families Save Their Homes Act," that will protect the rights of renters living in properties that have gone into foreclosure, and help to prevent homelessness by strengthening existing programs.
S. 896 is intended to prevent mortgage foreclosures and enhance mortgage credit availability. It passed the Senate on May 6, 2009, by a vote of 94-5.
Senator John Kerry's (D-MA) renter protection amendment to the bill was accepted in the debate on the bill. The provision would allow tenants with leases to remain in their home for the term of their lease, unless the house is purchased by someone who wants to live in the house. In such cases, the tenant would receive 90 days' notice before being required to vacate. Tenants with a Section 8 housing choice voucher would be able to remain in the property with both their lease and rental assistance payments intact.
"The Senate has taken a critical step forward in protecting the rights of renters, who are the blameless victims of the foreclosure crisis," said NLIHC President Sheila Crowley. "Renters whose landlords are foreclosed upon are among those most at risk for homelessness, and we applaud the action to prevent these unjust and completely unnecessary displacements."
Also accepted as an amendment to S.896 was the HEARTH Act, a long sought reauthorization of the HUD McKinney-Vento programs, that will streamline the programs and increase their flexibility to meet the needs of communities.
The amendment, offered by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Christopher Bond (R-MO), would consolidate the separate McKinney-Vento homeless assistance programs into a single Continuum of Care Program. The bill will also call for the development of a national plan to end homelessness and establish a nationwide goal of ensuring that individuals and families who become homeless return to permanent housing within 30 days.
"One in 10 people living below the federal poverty level will become homeless at some point over the course of a year, with a projection of at least 800,000 new homeless people, including children, seniors, and veterans this year," Crowley said. "This is a much-needed step in the right direction for housing policy in the United States."
"We thank Senators Kerry, Reed and Bond for seizing the moment presented by the consideration of S. 896 to move two major housing bills of enormous significance to the lowest income people in our country," Crowley added.
The House bill is likely to consider this week H.R. 1728, which would provide similar protections for renters. A similar provision to the McKinney-Vento amendment, H.R. 1877 has been introduced in the House. We are hopeful that the House will take up this legislation soon.
More information about S.896, including the bill's complete text, is available at: www.thomas.gov
The National Low Income Housing Coalition is dedicated solely to ending America’s affordable housing crisis. Established in 1974 by Cushing N. Dolbeare, NLIHC educates, organizes and advocates to ensure decent, affordable housing within healthy neighborhoods for everyone. NLIHC provides up-to-date information, formulates policy and educates the public on housing needs and the strategies for solutions.