Tenants with People’s Action’s Homes Guarantee Campaign Knocked Thousands of Doors and Organized Over 2000 Comments to the FHFA
WASHINGTON, D.C. – People’s Action’s Homes Guarantee campaign celebrated the power of tenants as the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) closed its request for public input (RFI) on tenant protections. Through its oversight and conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises), the FHFA oversees $150 billion in financing to landlords every year, and in approximately one-quarter of multifamily assets across the country.
In response to the RFI, tenants with the campaign knocked 4,719 doors in Enterprise-backed properties, organized over 2,000 comments from tenants and their allies, and helped to form five tenant unions in Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, and Massachusetts. Yesterday, the campaign submitted a comment with policy recommendations and rationale, specifically making the case for rent regulations. The campaign also submitted a letter, co-signed by 317 leading housing justice organizations, stating in part:
“In today’s market, Enterprise-backed financing has become a tool that enriches real estate investors, often at the expense of tenants. As the supervisor and conservator of the Enterprises, FHFA has the opportunity and the authority to implement tenant protections in an estimated eight million rental units with Enterprise-backed mortgages.
“FHFA will hear from realtors, apartment associations, investors, lenders, and many other parties who benefit from the status quo, as inequitable as it is. Their messages will be the same as ever: any proposed change will impact their ability to do business. What we have to consider, in the face of these arguments, is who their business serves, and who it does not serve.
“The system as we know it today has failed everyday people, many of whom make impossible choices between rent and food, their homes or their medications. The status quo is not working for the people, it is only working for the profiteers, and it is time for change. It is time for the federal government to make changes to that system, to correct the imbalance of power between landlords and tenants, to protect tenants, and to stabilize the American economy.
“FHFA must implement robust tenant protections, attached to all Enterprise-backed financing, in order to protect the safety and soundness of the secondary mortgage market and preserve the existing supply of affordable rental housing. By taking these steps, FHFA can take leadership in moving this country towards a more just and equitable housing system, promoting true affordability and racial equity.”
FHFA’s investigation into tenant protections came after months of organizing by the Homes Guarantee campaign, including several meetings between tenants and the FHFA’s senior leadership team, a property visit with the FHFA Director, a coalition-built portal to collect input for the FHFA process, and a 1000-person direct action at the headquarters of the National Multifamily Housing Council, one of the biggest lobbyists for corporate landlords. The campaign will continue working with the FHFA as they analyze the comments and begin drafting policy.
People’s Action builds the power of poor and working people in urban, rural, and suburban areas to win change through issue fights and elections. We are a national network of 40 state and local grassroots power-building organizations in 29 states–united in the work of building a bigger “we.”
Contact: Johanna Kichton, [email protected], 202.660.0605