The Squad Has a Plan to Cancel Your Rent

“Mass displacement, home foreclosures, and the shutting of businesses are imminent unless aggressive measures are taken immediately,” Rep. Ilhan Omar said Friday.

by Emma Ockerman
Apr 17 2020, 4:32pm

The Squad wants to cancel your rent.

Minnesota Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar announced legislation Friday that would fully forgive rent and mortgage payments to ensure people aren’t evicted during the coronavirus crisis, and that vacant properties aren’t left to be scooped up by investors specializing in flipping homes after a crisis.

The "Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act," co-sponsored by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Pramila Jayapal, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, and others, also calls for the cancelation of any fines that build up during periods of unpaid rent, or other measures that might impact a tenant’s credit score and keep them from renting or owning a property in the future.

“Mass displacement, home foreclosures, and the shutting of businesses are imminent unless aggressive measures are taken immediately,” Omar said Friday, adding that she hopes the rent cancellation proposal will make its way into Congress’ next coronavirus relief package.

“Families will lose their homes and the housing market will suffer a huge damage,” she said. “Already calls for rent strike are echoing across this country as tenants withhold payments indefinitely.”

The legislation also calls for a landlord and lender relief fund, which would reimburse property owners for unpaid rent so long as they meet certain fair housing and lending practice standards for the next five years.

For those properties that do become vacant and are available to purchase, Omar said the goal is to establish a fund to ensure they’re bought by non-profits and public housing authorities so they remain affordable.

“The housing crisis didn’t begin with the coronavirus,” she said.

For weeks, cities across the U.S. have called upon legislators to introduce measures that would wipe out rent obligations, rather than stall them.

“In 2008, we bailed out Wall Street,” Omar said. “This time, it’s time to bail out the American people who are suffering.”

While many American renters are currently protected from immediate eviction due to widespread, state-imposed moratoriums, that unpaid rent continues to accrue. And because millions of Americans are out of work right now, destroying whatever savings they might’ve been able to set aside, it’s unclear whether people will be able to pay any portion of their debt when the pandemic fades. That could stoke a tsunami of evictions and foreclosures and push the economy further into freefall.

“My landlord may not evict me this month, but what’s stopping him from evicting us as soon as the moratorium lifts?” Tiana Caldwell, a renter in Kansas City, Missouri, said during the press conference.

Read the full copy of the bill here:

Cover: From left, Reps. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., conduct a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center on Monday, July 15, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

This article originally appeared on VICE US.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Ilhan Omar