WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – Gas prices may be falling but across America, rent is still going up.
Housing advocates call it a crisis and want the White House to declare a state of emergency on housing.
“Millions of people across the country simply can’t afford to make their monthly rent payments,” said Tara Raghuveer, the director of the Homes Guarantee Campaign, a coalition of tenant unions, community organizations and legal groups.
Redfin reports that in May of this year for the first time ever, the average rental cost more than $2,000 a month. And it’s not just in big cities.
“There’s no county in the United States where a minimum wage worker who’s working fulltime can afford a two-bedroom apartment,” Raghuveer said.
Homes Guarantee is pushing for a full government response to lower rent inflation. The campaign is urging the Biden administration to force landlords, particularly corporations and private equity firms, to hold the line on rent increases.
“They’re using inflation as an excuse, some of them,” Raghuveer said. “But really, they’re maximizing their profits.”
Raghuveer’s group also wants a Cabinet-level task force to secure legal help for tenants in eviction proceedings and investigate how rising rents impact access to fair housing.
President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law Tuesday, which he hailed as a healthcare, climate and tax bill to ease costs overall for Americans.
“Which has nothing to do with our homes, ” Raghuveer said. “We haven’t heard much messaging at all from the White House about rent as a part of this inflation crisis.”
It’s just one reason Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-AR, were united in their opposition to the new law.
“We’re already, I think, in a housing crisis,” said Westerman. “Nothing that this administration is doing is helping that.”
The White House unveiled its Housing Supply Action Plan in May, which aims to close the nation’s housing shortfall in five years. However, advocates said the investments in new construction would do little to combat current rental inflation.
Raghuveer warns if rents don’t moderate, more people will lose their homes and end up in the streets.