Rents are high — what does Biden want to do?

A “For rent” sign at a property in the Salt Lake City on Friday, Jan. 6, 2023.

A “For rent” sign at a property in the Salt Lake City on Friday, Jan. 6, 2023. The Biden administration has signaled it plans to use the power of the federal government to keep rent prices down.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

With the cost of housing putting pressure on family budgets, the Biden administration announced it would try to use the power of the federal government to keep rent prices down. But many of the measures championed by the administration could inadvertently backfire if they led to fewer new homes or rental units being built.

President Joe Biden could also be putting himself on a collision course with state and local lawmakers by using his executive authority to step into an area that is traditionally under their purview. The plan released by the administration does say several of the measures require buy-in at the state or local level.

But the White House announcement included actions that several federal agencies will take on housing issues. The Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said they will look into what they deemed “unfair practices,” like tenant background checks. The Federal Housing Finance Agency said it will look at potentially limiting “egregious” rent increases. Other federal agencies will also look at potentially adding new regulations or investigations.

The administration also released a blueprint “renter’s bill of rights,” which includes potential action items on things like eviction prevention, the right to organize and guidelines on leases.

Housing activists say Biden’s plan doesn’t go far enough and should include more pressure from the federal government, including the threat of withholding federal dollars if state and local governments don’t comply, according to The Washington Post.  

Inflation and rising interest rates have put pressure on housing costs over the past two years. Rent costs have been hit especially hard. In December 2022, a rent report from rent.com said monthly payments were up 7.45% from the year before. 

Rising rent prices hit low income households particularly hard, since housing costs typically make up a greater percentage of their household budgets. Meanwhile, monthly mortgage costs have skyrocketed in recent months as the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates in an attempt to slow inflation. 

Biden’s move comes as progressive lawmakers have put pressure on him to address this issue.

letter signed by 50 progressive lawmakers, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., encouraged Biden to do all within his authority to try to lower housing costs, including by using federal agencies to put pressure on landlords. A Reason article raised concerns that lawmakers want Biden to institute rent control at the federal level.

Biden’s move also comes as some pundits have pointed out his weakness with working-class voters, which showed up in the 2022 midterms among not just white voters but Black and Latino voters as well. 

Suzanne Bates

Link

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *