The affordable housing crisis in America is an urgent, life-threatening public health emergency.
The inability of the richest country in the world to guarantee housing, universal medical care, and livable wages to its people represents a moral and political failure at every level of our society. I’ve long believed housing is a basic human right and lawmakers in Congress must start legislating like it.
I’ve been evicted. I’ve been unhoused and lived in my car with my two babies, I know the trauma and violence of being house insecure. That’s why I refuse to accept the status quo that leaves hundreds of thousands of our people unhoused.
It’s not just about having a place to live: it’s about making sure people feel safe and secure, and building a world in which no person has to endure the trauma of having all of their belongings put out on the street.
When Congress went on vacation without extending the eviction moratorium, I refused to go home. For 5 days, I camped out on the Capitol steps, organized a mass movement, and pressured the Biden administration to act. And they did — we won an extension of the eviction moratorium – helping to keep an estimated 11 million people in their homes. For three more weeks, states and localities had more time to stand up systems and processes for doling out the $46.5 billion in emergency rental assistance that we had secured as part of COVID relief funds. For three more weeks, and until the far-right Supreme Court struck it down, children and families all across the country were protected from evictions. It’s why I introduced the Keeping Renters Safe Act – bicameral legislation – to extend the eviction moratorium through the end of this COVID-19 public health emergency.
I know the housing crisis doesn’t just fall hardest on renters. I understand the challenges that homeowners and landlords face in our community. In Congress, I will continue pushing for historic investments in our nation’s housing stock so that we can expand affordable housing options, end exclusionary zoning policies, provide safe options so our seniors can age in place, end redlining, and provide redress for Black homeowners in St. Louis and beyond.
We have the ability in Congress to ensure that every person in this country is housed — and I am working day in and day out to build that future where safe, affordable housing is guaranteed for all.
Guaranteed Affordable Housing For All
- Pass the Unhoused Bill of Rights. My Unhoused Bill of Rights demonstrates the complexity of issues faced by unhoused persons, particularly as it relates to their criminalization, discrimination, dehumanization, and mistreatment by law enforcement, private businesses, and housed persons. From a health-based, equity approach the UBR calls on the federal government to permanently end the unhoused crisis by 2025 by drastically increasing the affordable housing stock, providing universal housing vouchers, and bolstering funding to federal housing programs, shelters, transitional and permanent housing programs, social services, and housing advocates. As your Congresswoman, I will never stop fighting to protect the health, safety, and rights of every person in St. Louis, including our unhoused neighbors.
- Fully fund and expand vouchers for affordable housing. The Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV) program, the nation’s largest rental assistance program, provides rent subsidies to low-income families in the private market. Unfortunately, just one in four eligible families have access to this program. Stable housing greatly impacts physical and mental health outcomes. In Congress, I will push to review HCV and expand subsidies so that more St. Louis households can afford to choose where they live.
- Increase funding for the National Housing Trust Fund. Created in 2008, the National Housing Trust Fund is a federal fund that supports state plans to “produce, rehabilitate, preserve, and operate rental housing for [extremely low-income] households.” The fund began funding projects in 2016, but significant unmet needs continue to exist in rental housing available to extremely low-income families, necessitating greater federal resources. In Congress, I will continue advocating for increased funding for the National Housing Trust Fund, in order to expand federal support for the development and preservation of affordable housing.
- Fund HUD Section 202 Program. According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, “HUD’s Section 202 program is the only federal rental assistance program designed explicitly to serve seniors, yet there has been no funding for new construction under the program since fiscal year 2011.” We know that helping seniors age, safely, in place improves quality of life and public health. We should be making necessary investments to ensure seniors have access to safe, affordable housing and/or resources to remain in their homes. In Congress, I will continue fighting for renewed funding for this vital program.
- End All Evictions. Evictions are policy violence. No person should come home to an eviction notice, be forced to see all of their belongings put on the streets, or have evictions placed on their credit reports. As someone who has been evicted, I understand the trauma that ensues from a violent eviction. It’s why I introduced the Keeping Renters Safe Act to prohibit all evictions during the COVID-19 public health emergency. In Congress, I will continue to fight and advance legislation that protects renters from evictions, provides access to legal aid, and prohibits the reporting of evictions on credit reports.
- Protect Survivors of Domestic Violence. Traditionally, housing protections under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) would only apply to domestic violence and sexual assault survivors living in public housing – until VAWA was reauthorized in March 2022. My first eviction was the result of a domestic violence incident. It’s something I’ll never forget and it is why I was proud to secure two amendments in the reauthorization of VAWA that President Biden signed into law earlier this year – one of which will extend protections to survivors of domestic violence from eviction and ensure survivors have the necessary supports they need to access transitional housing programs. To heal, survivors of domestic and sexual violence need access to basic necessities, including housing. It is vital protections such as housing that help protect survivors and save lives.
End Racist, Discriminatory Housing Policies
Provide assistance to people hurt by federal housing policy failures. The housing crisis affects low income St. Louisans by presenting us with a false dichotomy: we can either live in a disinvested community controlled by unaccountable slum lords or live in gentrifying communities controlled by the will of private developers. Our government has failed to represent our need for quality and affordable housing. In Congress, I will continue to push back against discriminatory housing policies that undermine the Fair Housing Act, including racist housing appraisal processes, Black and brown neighborhoods’ proximity to high pollution areas, and disproportionately high foreclosure rates for Black homeowners. Additionally, I will support the advancement of the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act which would create a down payment assistance program for first-time homebuyers living in formerly redlined communities and a $2 billion program to assist homeowners with negative equity and strengthen the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) to ensure that financial institutions do more to meet the needs of low- and moderate-income borrowers and neighborhoods.