BY JOSEPH CROWLEY
There are 111 million renters in America. It’s a staggering number that still doesn’t begin to encapsulate the huge economic burden most renters feel when writing out their monthly checks.
In my district, the numbers are even higher. More than two-thirds of Queens and Bronx residents rent—and a huge portion of those men and women are considered “rent burdened.” Or, specifically, they pay more than 30 percent of their monthly income in rent.
This is an economic problem, a stability problem and a growth problem. The skyrocketing cost of rent—not just in cities like New York but in towns across America—is making it increasingly difficult for families to find financial security, save for retirement and, for some, even put food on the table.
But it doesn’t need to be this way. Congress can and should offer support to those men and women who are working and lifting themselves into the middle class, by combating the rising costs of rent.
In Congress, I’m fighting to do just that.
Republicans are prepared to vote on a tax bill this month—we’ve dubbed it the GOP Tax Scam because it will scam middle-class and working families in favor of corporate special interest, which will hurt renters even more.
In the Ways and Means Committee, when Republican lawmakers were crafting this bill, I tried to attach the Rent Relief Act—legislation that would help everyday Americans see some real relief.
The Rent Relief Act will put real money back in the pockets of renters who are paying far too much for their homes. As a refundable tax credit, it would help alleviate the crushing financial burden families feel when even the most basic apartment comes with a luxury price tag.
Republicans rejected it.
But this is far too important for families in Queens and the Bronx, so I will continue to fight for it.
If we combine this tax credit with our ongoing work to make affordable housing readily available, families from all different backgrounds could afford to call New York home.
This tax credit would mean relief for the millions of Americans who are forced to make impossible choices between paying rent and affording basic needs such as healthcare. Families who need our help the most could see the end of tough decisions between a roof over their heads or food on the table. It would ensure that individuals from diverse backgrounds have an affordable place to call home.
And it’s desperately needed. Rent prices are vastly outpacing any income growth in New York—and neighborhoods like mine in Queens and the Bronx are becoming unaffordable for families who have lived there for generations.
Easing the burden of rent would be an overall economic boon as families could save for retirement, purchase a home or invest in their communities. When families feel trapped by monthly payments just to put a roof over their heads, it hurts the financial security of the whole economy.
Joseph Crowley represents New York’s 14th Congressional District, which includes Queens and the Bronx. He is also the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and a member of the Ways and Means Committee.