Lawmakers introduce bill to assist renters with security deposits

“We have a serious housing crisis in New Mexico and across the country,” Heinrich said in an announcement posted on the senator’s website. “It’s impacting everyone, at all income levels and in nearly every community. The DEPOSIT Act tackles one piece of this puzzle by focusing on the costs that come from moving into a new home. That includes security deposits – one of the biggest barriers low-income renters face when moving into a new apartment, often required on top of two months’ rent.”

The bill is designed to “unlock support to help renters overcome this barrier so their families can settle into a safe place to call home and build a foundation for a better future,” he said.

The bill’s co-sponsors are comprised of other Democratic senators, including Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Alex Padilla (D-CA) and Peter Welch (VT).

In addition, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) is expected to introduce a commensurate version of the bill into the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

“With housing costs and general cost of living skyrocketing, there should be relief for people to ensure they have shelter,” Rep. Lee said. “I’m excited to work with Sen. Heinrich to build bicameral support to fund this important program because homelessness knows no bounds. It’s time the federal government get off the sidelines and work to combat America’s housing crisis.”

One reason this issue is being pursued is that “security deposit assistance programs are inconsistent across the country,” according to the announcement.

“[S]tate and local housing authorities [are] supplementing assistance with non-profits and community organizations,” the announcement states. “The DEPOSIT Act would expand federal support for essential moving costs, like security deposits, for Section 8 voucher holders and other low-income renters.”

Rep. Lee added that the bill’s provisions are modeled after a housing program from the George W. Bush administration.

“The DEPOSIT Act would set up a revolving fund to provide security deposit assistance to low- and very low-income renters,” Lee’s office said. “This section is modeled on the American Dream Down payment Initiative (ADDI)—a bipartisan effort from President George W. Bush’s tenure to provide down payments to first-time homebuyers.” 

The bill would also require the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to perform a study of the impact on “alternatives to security deposits;” which her office describes as “insurance-like products where renters pay a monthly fee to a third-party company.”

Sen. Heinrich has secured support for the bill from a number of housing organizations in his state, including the Albuquerque Housing Authority, New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness, San Juan Partnership, Community Action Agency of Southern New Mexico, Mesilla Valley Community of Hope, DreamTree Project, Youth Heartline and HEART of Taos.

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