Chairman Crowley Announces Legislation to Provide Rent Relief for Working Families

August 21, 2017
Press Release

(Queens, N.Y.) – Today, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx), Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus announced The Rent Relief Act - federal legislation that would provide two new refundable tax credits to people who live in rental housing. Crowley was joined by NYS Assemblyman Brian Barnwell, NYC Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, housing advocates and community members at a press conference at the Woodside Houses in Queens.

Throughout the United States, 111 million Americans live in rental housing. In New York City, nearly two-thirds of all households are occupied by renters - twice the national average. Crowley’s legislation would help hardworking Americans who are considered “rent-burdened” balance the needs of their families with increasingly unaffordable housing markets.

“The lack of rental affordability isn’t just hurting the working poor – it’s a serious burden on hard-working middle-class families too,” said Chairman Crowley. “Unfortunately, the demand for rental housing continues to outpace supply, and while all signs point to higher rents in the future, wages remain stagnant. Just as the tax code has helped make home ownership more affordable, I believe Congress must provide relief to the growing number of renters who are feeling squeezed financially. That’s why I am introducing the Rent Relief Act.”

Under Crowley’s bill, qualified individuals who live in rental housing as their primary residence and pay more than 30% of their income in rent would be eligible for a refundable tax credit determined by taking into account the household’s annual income, the total amount spent annually on rent, and a stimulated rate of the federal government’s established fair market annual rent caps.

Individuals who live in government-subsidized rental housing could claim the value of one month’s rent as a refundable tax credit. As subsidized housing rent is typically capped at 30% of a person’s income, making them ineligible for the tax credit for rent-burdened residents, this credit would give much-needed relief to lower income residents.

“Too many lifelong residents are being pushed out of the homes they grew up in,” said NYS Assemblyman Brian Barnwell. “We have an affordability crisis in New York and we must help people stay in their homes. Congressman Crowley’s Rent Relief Act will provide tax relief to individuals and will help ease their rent burden. No New Yorker should be forced out of their homes.”

“With stagnant pay and rising rents, New Yorkers are finding it more difficult to make it from month to month,” said City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. “This tax credit spearheaded by Congressman Crowley would be life changing for millions of New Yorkers, bringing much needed financial relief and a boost to our local businesses. Combined with continued efforts to preserve and expand affordable and public housing, the Rent Relief Act tax credit would help keep New York City a vibrant and inclusive place for all New Yorkers.”

“Too many families in New York City are struggling to afford rent each month,”said Rachel Fee, New York Housing Conference Executive Director. “As rents continue to outpace income, we need federal policy to support affordable rental housing, especially for low-income families. Congressman Crowley's bill will provide this needed relief to renters in New York and across the country."

“Congressman Crowley’s Rent Relief Act would provide much-needed resources directly to struggling families and individuals to help them afford to keep a roof over their heads,” said National Low Income Housing Coalition President and CEO Diane Yentel. “These refundable tax credits would put more money in the pockets of the lowest income families, at a time when their wages have flat-lined and housing costs have skyrocketed. Millions of families – including those with the greatest needs – would no longer be forced to make impossible choices between paying for rent and covering other basic needs like food and healthcare. I applaud Congressman Crowley for his leadership on this innovative, bold proposal.”

“It’s great to be represented by Chairman Crowley who supports the needs of public housing and low- and moderate income families Urban Upbound serves in Queens," said Bishop Mitchell Taylor, Co-Founder and CEO of Urban Upbound. “With NYC housing costs being a burdensome monthly expense, any amount of monetary relief can be a critical turning point in their journey to long-term economic stability.”