A group of Democrats is reviving a caucus in the House that is focused on ending homelessness in the U.S. as the housing crisis steadily worsens across the country.
This week, Representatives Cori Bush (D-Missouri), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-California), Suzanne Bonamici (D-Oregon) and Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas) announced that they’re establishing the Congressional Caucus on Homelessness, which will “work toward the common goal of ending homelessness in this country.”
The caucus holds that homelessness is a policy choice, and says it will explore solutions to serve people experiencing homelessness. The caucus is made up of roughly two dozen members so far.
Garcia said that the caucus “will fight for homeless individuals alongside our Caucus Members with the collective goal of eradicating this failure in our system, as we believe that housing is a human right.”
“The need for housing is universal, yet over 500,000 people across the country experience being unhoused,” added Bush. “This is the result of policy failures, and Congress has a moral responsibility to address the unhoused crisis.”
Bush, who has personally experienced homelessness, has maintained a focus on housing issues throughout her time in Congress; in 2021, Bush made headlines when she slept on the steps of the Capitol to protest the end of the federal eviction moratorium, which was put in place for the COVID-19 pandemic.
When the Supreme Court struck down the Biden administration’s federal eviction moratorium in 2021, Congress failed to act, despite housing advocates’ warnings that an eviction cliff would be spurred by the end of the moratorium. Bush, along with other progressive and Democratic members of Congress, had filed legislation to circumvent the Supreme Court decision, but the legislation was never brought to a vote; she also filed a bill that year that aimed to permanently end homelessness by 2025 by drastically increasing the stock of affordable housing.
Since 2021, evictions have been on the rise in cities across the country, with some cities exceeding pre-pandemic levels of evictions in recent months, according to researchers at Princeton’s Eviction Lab.
Rent prices have skyrocketed to historic levels over the past two years; in 2022, the median rent for available apartments rose above $2,000 for the first time in history, and house prices shot up by nearly 50 percent as private equity firms and corporations snapped up homes at record rates.
Lawmakers, tenants and housing rights groups have encouraged the Biden administration to take action on housing, including declaring an emergency over massive shortages of affordable housing, but Biden’s actions have thus far been inadequate, advocates say.
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