Pelosi Floor Speech in Support of the Emergency Housing Protections and Relief Act of 2020
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the Floor of the House of Representatives in support of H.R. 7301, the Housing Protections and Relief Act of 2020, critical legislation to support the American people facing housing and financial challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
I thank the gentlewoman for yielding and for her exceptional leadership on behalf of America's working families. I especially salute her now for bringing the Emergency Housing Protections and Relief Act to the Floor. It is urgently needed. I rise in support of it because it is, as I said, an urgently-needed lifeline for working families as COVID-19 exacts its devastating impact on millions of lives and livelihoods across America.
I salute Chairwoman Maxine Waters, Chair of the Financial Services Committee, a relentless, persistent, dissatisfied force for good on behalf of America's working families, especially focused on their financial security, housing being central to that. I thank Denny Heck for his leadership on this important legislation, as well.
As we know, Mr. Speaker, there's an affordable housing crisis in America, long before COVID, which challenges the conscience of our country and now has been exacerbated by COVID-19. Before the crisis, one quarter of America's 44 million renters paid over half their income on rent, putting them just one financial emergency away from eviction and homelessness. For many, COVID-19 is that one emergency. Tens of millions of Americans have lost jobs, with rental households disproportionately affected. We cannot accept a situation in which millions of families are forced to make the devastating choice between paying the rent, paying for groceries, prescriptions and other essentials, but that has been the current – even before COVID, that was the challenge. That's why, earlier today, we brought legislation to the Floor to lower the cost of prescription drugs, because it had such an impact on financial security of families. And now helping to – with the rent.
Thirty percent of renters could not make rent in June, exposing them to the threat of eviction, particularly as the eviction bans that Democrats have accrued in the CARES Act end. Evictions are devastating, dismantling financial security and exposing children and families to situations of financial instability that harm their health and well-being. Children who experience evictions are already vulnerable, more likely to live in families earning low incomes, belong to communities of color – which have a disproportionate impact here – and special education needs, more special education needs than children who don’t face eviction.
I say this carefully because when I was a girl, my father was Mayor of Baltimore. My mother, as First Lady, had as her mission affordable housing. And she said, ‘How can we teach children love and respect when we don't even show them that love and respect by giving them a decent place to live?’ I was so proud because when she passed away many years after that, The Baltimore Sun used that statement in her – in her obituary, but this has always been important.
And when we did our summit on children, talking about their health and education and their financial security, health leaders told us: You must include housing in that, because it has such an impact on the psychological well-being of children. So, think of the children when you think of this.
In May, again, in May, the House passed The Heroes Act, which secured $100 billion in emergency assistance to help 44 million rental households remain stably housed along with another $100 billion for additional housing support and homelessness prevention initiatives. All of this under the leadership of Congress – Madam Chair, Maxine Waters. Again, she has been fighting this fight for a long time. Reaching down into existing law and statute to find ways to take us forward.
Yet, after we passed The Heroes Act, Leader McConnell said we have to ‘take a pause.’ Take a pause. The virus is not pausing and the rent demands are not pausing, and so we cannot pause. While McConnell denies family relief – he is denying these families relief, the House will pass this bill to promote housing security. And we continue to call on the Senate to pass The Heroes Act and secure life-saving housing and homelessness prevention measures, which include – I said the $100 billion and the $75 billion, and the $11.5 billion for assistance to people experiencing homelessness and for homelessness prevention, building on the $4 billion provided in the CARES Act. We need more now. Freezing on – freezing of evictions and foreclosures, including expanding the moratorium in the CARES Act to cover all renters until March 2021. Rental assistance support for the most vulnerable in urban and rural areas, including seniors, persons with HIV/AIDS, people with disabilities and people living in tribes and I'm so pleased that you put the special rural housing initiative in here, Madam Chair. New emergency vouchers to support people who are homeless or are at risk of homelessness, including those fleeing domestic violence and assault.
This COVID is a vicious and insidious virus. And it is resourceful and it just is out there and it attacks people, not only their lives, but their livelihood and their housing and their psychological well-being and everything else. So, there are other reasons we should be passing The Heroes Act, but right now, I’ll stay focused on this.
I thank you, also, Madam Chair, for having the provisions that relate to staving off foreclosures for those who will not be able to pay the mortgage.
So, I urge a strong bipartisan vote for the housing emergency – Emergency Housing Protections and Relief Act, to safeguard America's housing and financial security during this time of crisis. Mr. Chairman – Mr. Speaker, we're asking people to shelter in place, shelter at home, and yet – because of COVID, they should do that, but because of COVID, they may be evicted. Not if Madam Chair Maxine Waters has her way.
I urge a strong bipartisan vote for financial security for America's working families. And with that I yield back the balance of my time.