Lisa Savage, independent Green candidate for U.S. Senate from Solon, launched a Congressional petition today, calling for legislation to enact forgiveness of rent payments for all residential renters and abatement of all mortgages on residential buildings with five dwelling units or fewer. While the legislation should be enacted immediately, she said, any eventual legislation should be retroactive to April 1 and last one month past any local, state, or federal declaration of emergency, shelter in place order, or widespread social distancing order that keeps a significant portion of the populace out of work.
“Countless people have lost some or all of their income in the pandemic and are worried about how to pay their rent or make their mortgage payments coming due on April 1st,” said Savage. “The recent stimulus passed by Congress is nowhere near enough, and an eviction moratorium alone doesn’t provide housing security. We need immediate relief that protects both renters and homeowners, and provides housing and income security that we all need to survive this crisis and get back on our feet.”
- See text of the petition here.
- See Savage’s short videos on housing insecurity and emergency measures to address it.
“This period of rent forgiveness and mortgage abatement,” Savage said, “should last until the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic has lessened significantly, as indicated by a return to levels of unemployment comparable to pre-pandemic levels. Congress must return to work immediately to address a residential payment moratorium and many other solutions to our current pandemic crisis.”
The unprecedented financial distress of the Covid-19 pandemic is creating a rent and mortgage payment crisis. People are unemployed or struggling with the collapse of their household income. Yet the rent and mortgage come due every month. Before the spread of the virus, our own Federal Reserve found that 40% of all Americans did not have the resources to pay for an unexpected $400 bill. How many of the nearly 20% of the American workforce who just lost employment or self-employment income will be able to weather that unexpected event?
At the same time, 75% of all rental properties are owned by a single-property owner, and these owners of small single- and multi-unit dwellings have mortgages and other bills to pay. They do not have access to the same financial resources, including loans and refinancing, as large corporate property owners. Many are seniors on a fixed income who simply cannot afford to absorb this loss. Therefore we must also pass legislation that halts the collection of mortgage payments for a similar time period on any residential building with five or fewer units, and similarly allows for the stoppage of payments of interest on mortgage-backed bonds.
With $11 trillion in mortgage-backed securities in the marketplace, said Savage, we are looking at an implosion of the debt market without legislative intervention.
The recently-passed stimulus package falls far short of what the economy needs to weather the pandemic. For many people, a one-time $1,200 check will barely cover a single month's rent, and temporary eviction moratoriums alone only forestall a massive housing crisis, potentially leaving people with crippling debt payments in the future. Nothing short of comprehensive rent and mortgage relief that protects both renters and homeowners can provide housing and income security that is absolutely essential for all of us to survive this crisis and get back on our feet when the danger subsides.
Find information about Lisa’s background, her policy positions, and where to donate to her people-powered campaign at www.LisaforMaine.org.