WASHINGTON, D.C. – People’s Action’s Homes Guarantee campaign wrapped up the Tenant Takeover, bringing 100 tenants to D.C. who experienced rent hikes, evictions, or live in buildings whose corporate landlords receive federal financing from the government. The tenants demanded the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) protect tenants and regulate rents over a series of events including a congressional briefing, press conference, meeting with FHFA leadership, and direct action.
As part of their commitments to a White House tenant protections initiative, FHFA is considering attaching tenant protections to federal financing, potentially benefiting 12.4 million rental homes in the country. Rent continues to be the most enduring and significant factor in overall inflation.
“If there’s no strategy on rent, there’s no strategy on the economy,” said People’s Action Homes Guarantee campaign director Tara Raghuveer.
On Wednesday, the Homes Guarantee campaign hosted a congressional briefing with former FHFA economist Alexei Alexandrov and acting executive director of Groundwork Collaborative Kitty Richards. Tenant leaders Jackie Floyd (Louisville Tenants Union), Lilly Durka (Bozeman Tenants United), Bennita Watford (Neighbor to Neighbor), and Oklahoma City Councilor JoBeth Hamon testified. Afterwards, the campaign hosted a press conference with U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal D-Wash. where Iris Espada (Neighbor to Neighbor) and Demetrius Mosely (Louisville Tenants Union) spoke.
“Mountain View Apartments got a 2.6 million dollar loan from Fannie Mae. They are profiting off of our rent, while our conditions are not improving,” said Bozeman Tenants United leader Lilly Durka. “Bozeman has one of the highest rates of new construction in the country. These new units aren’t affordable to me or anyone else who keeps the town of Bozeman running. Tenants are making impossible choices about where to live and how to pay the rent.”
Today, the campaign hosted a direct action at the D.C. headquarters of corporate landlord Starwood Capital Group. Starwood Capital is one of the largest residential landlords in the country, with more than 115,000 apartment units and single-family rental homes across the country. Tenants held a short program where four speakers shared their stories on the floor of the office building, while other tenants held signs and chanted outside the building.
“It’s not right that I work hard every single day, living paycheck to paycheck to make corporate landlords like Starwood Capital and Barry Steinlicht even richer. It’s not right that the federal government is in business with the slumlords who would have us live in squalor while they brag about raising our rents,” said Louisville Tenant Union member Elizabeth Olvera Perez.
Polling on the economy shows that people care less about job creation and more about prices – and the biggest cost people continue to face is their rent. Polling from Data for Progress and Bipartisan Policy Center point to bipartisan voter appetite for federal action to mitigate rising housing costs. In addition, high mortgage rates are putting homeownership out of reach more than ever before and pushing would-be owners into the rental market, allowing landlords to hike rents. Meanwhile, the Department of Justice announced their investigation into corporate landlord price gouging.