Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar has introduced a bill that would mandate full forgiveness on rent and home mortgage payments during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the bill, titled the Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act, renters or homeowners would be forgiven for their debts and their credit rating or rental history would not be negatively impacted.
"Right now, we are facing an unprecedented crisis that has put millions of Americans at risk of housing instability and homelessness," the Minnesota congresswoman said in a statement Thursday. "To avoid an even larger crisis, we must cancel rent and mortgage payments during this pandemic. This isn’t a radical idea. It’s what is needed to prevent an even bigger crisis.
"While the American Rescue Plan extends the national rent moratorium – this is not a longterm solution. People across this country will be forced to pay tens of thousands of dollars in back rent when it ends. In some cases, local governments are allowing evictions to continue despite the moratorium. In other cases, landlords are going bankrupt due to lack of income. To avoid an even larger crisis, we must cancel rent and mortgage payments during this pandemic. This isn’t a radical idea. It’s what is needed to prevent an even bigger crisis."
The bill – which Omar has submitted once before – also calls on the Department of Housing and Urban Development to set up a "Landlord Relief Fund" that will make sure landlords don't lose money because of the cancelled debts.
The bill has 20 co-sponsors in the Democrat-controlled House.
"I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing bold legislation to help our constituents stay in their homes during this pandemic – especially if they’ve been laid off, lost hours or lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19," said Rep. Andre Carson, D-Ind.