Reps. Pressley, Tlaib and Waters call for extended protections for public housing residents

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.)
Greg Nash

A trio of Democratic lawmakers are calling for extended protections for public housing residents to “provide them with the tools necessary to improve the quality of their homes.”

The Tenant Empowerment Act aims to hold the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and providers “accountable for poor housing conditions,” according to a press release announcing the introduction of the bill.

It calls for a number of provisions that would empower tenants with the ability to hold HUD and providers accountable for poor housing conditions while also improving the quality of their homes, including allowing tenants living in project-based housing to hold their rent money in escrow if HUD says a unit has a “serious violation of safe housing standards.”

Additionally, the provision would allow tenants to negotiate a rent release if the project owner meets measurable repairs benchmarks.

The bill also proposes increasing transparency for residents by giving them information regarding the building, including property management, annual operating statements and inspection reports, in addition to allowing tenants to participate in certain portions of HUD’s physical inspection and management review process.

The legislation was co-sponsored by Democratic Reps. Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) and Maxine Waters (Calif.).

“A safe and stable home should be a fundamental right for everyone who calls America home, but too often, our neighbors are forced to live in substandard or unsafe conditions,” Pressley said in a statement 

“Our bill would help change that by giving tenants new tools to hold HUD and housing providers accountable for poor housing conditions, protect and expand their right to organize, and ensure that everyone—particularly our most vulnerable renters—has a safe and healthy place to call home. As the daughter of a tenants’ rights organizer, I’m proud to work closely with our advocates to introduce this necessary legislation,” she added.

More than 5 million American households reportedly use federal rental assistance to afford modest housing, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The lawmakers noted that a number of residents living in HUD-assisted rental housing programs have experienced health issues because of the physical condition of their homes, a result of underfunding, insufficient HUD oversight and enforcement, and an absence of compliance with department regulations by some property owners.

Tags Ayanna Pressley House Housing Maxine Waters Public housing Rashida Tlaib Rent tenants
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