‘Rent is Too High’: Progressives in Congress Urge Biden to Act on Corporate Price Gouging

FILE - In this Jan. 27, 2021, file photo, a For Rent sign is posted in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

By Jessica Swarner

January 20, 2023

Tucson’s Rep. Raul Grijalva, along with  49 other lawmakers, sent a letter to President Biden outlining actions the government should take to address the country’s growing housing crisis.

Congressman Raul Grijalva of Tucson signed on to a letter with 49 other lawmakers urging President Joe Biden to take action on rising rent across the country. 

“Simply put, the rent is too high and millions of people across this country are struggling to stay stably housed as a result,” the letter states. 

RELATED: Arizona Led Nation for Rise in Homeless Youth Last Year, HUD Report Says

The group of lawmakers pointed to corporate price gouging as a cause of the unaffordable rates. 

“In a country where increase in rental costs have far outpaced wage growth, it is clear that these heightened costs and acts of corporate profiteering are exacerbating an already-existing crisis of housing unaffordability and instability,” the lawmakers wrote. 

The actions that the lawmakers asked Biden to take include: 

  • Directing the Federal Housing Finance Agency to establish renter protections—including anti-price gouging protections and just cause eviction standards—for tenants living in places financed with government-backed mortgage properties
  • Directing the Federal Trade Commission to enforce action against rent-gouging practices
  • Encouraging the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to investigate corporate landlords who are accused of discrimination against tenants
  • Encouraging states and cities to invest in affordable housing, extend rental assistance programs, and enact renter protections
  • Activating Federal Emergency Management Agency resources to help people experiencing homelessness find permanent housing and provide rental assistance to help others stay housed
  • Establishing a Federal Interagency Council on Tenants’ Rights

Grijalva said in a press release that he applauded the Biden administration’s implementation of the Emergency Rental Assistance program, but more needs to be done to keep people from being forced onto the streets. 

“The administration must expand its approach to address rent inflation and the rampant corporate price gouging that is forcing families out of their homes which is why we are calling for these additional federal actions,” the congressman stated. 

A 2022 Low Income Housing Coalition report found that a minimum-wage worker in Arizona would need to work 60 hours a week to afford a one-bedroom apartment. 

An affordable rent for a minimum-wage worker would be $666 a month, the report stated. According to rental search website Zumper, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Phoenix was $1,289, as of Jan. 13. 

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  • Jessica Swarner

    Jessica Swarner is the community editor for The Copper Courier. She is an ASU alumna and previously worked at KTAR News 92.3 FM in Phoenix.

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