eviction protest

People gather to protest rent increases and aggressive evictions and in support of tenant rights on April 23, 2022, in Brooklyn, New York. (Photo: Andrea Renault/AFP via Getty Images)

After Latest Fed Rate Hike, Housing Justice Activists Demand Biden Act to Fight Soaring Rents

"Tenants need immediate action from the White House to regulate rent and provide more certainty for millions of people struggling to make ends meet," said one campaigner.

A grassroots advocacy coalition on Thursday demanded that the Biden administration "address the acute crisis that so many families are feeling today by pursuing rent stabilization policies to stop the skyrocketing cost of housing."

"The Federal Reserve's aggressive interest rate hikes ignore corporate landlords' role in creating and maintaining this crisis."

President Joe Biden "has the authority to take executive action and direct agency-level action to regulate rent," People's Action noted in a new report, entitled The Rent Is (Still) Too Damn High.

"For example," the publication explains, "the president can direct the Federal Housing Finance Agency to impose rent controls on borrowers of federally backed mortgages, which would apply to approximately 43.8 million rental units--immediately slowing down rental inflation."

"Federal agencies also have a role to play," the report continues. "For example, the Department of Housing and Urban Development can work with municipalities, localities, and nonprofit housing providers to incentivize authorities to increase the housing supply, create more mixed-income units, and develop social housing that is kept permanently affordable by its dedicated preservation and capped costs outside of the private market."

Although overall inflation slowed to 7.1% in November--the lowest level since last December--rents are nearly 8% higher now than they were a year ago, according to consumer price index data. That's the biggest single-year increase in 40 years.

"While private rental data on leases may show prices have fallen in recent months, rents are still well above pre-pandemic levels," the People's Action report continues. "The national median rent for a one bedroom is now 21.4% higher than it was just prior to the pandemic in February of 2020, meaning the median renter is paying $205 more per month."

People's Action also took aim at the U.S. Federal Reserve, which on Wednesday raised interest rates for the seventh time this year--a move to slow the economy that experts say disproportionately harms borrowers, retirees, and low-wage workers, and could lead to a recession.

"Rent inflation is a key driver of core inflation," People's Action said, and "the Federal Reserve's aggressive interest rate hikes ignore corporate landlords' role in creating and maintaining this crisis and will hurt tenants."

People's Action Homes Guarantee campaign director Tara Raghuveer said in a statement that "millions of Americans still cannot afford their largest bill every month: the rent. Tenants need immediate action from the White House to regulate rent and provide more certainty for millions of people struggling to make ends meet."

Mike Mitchell, director of policy and research at the Groundwork Collaborative, asserted that "if the Fed triggers a recession, the consequences will be brutal for workers and families already struggling to stay afloat."

"And even with seven consecutive rate hikes," he added, "there is nothing the Fed can do to stop powerful corporate landlords from squeezing as much money as they can out of tenants."

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