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Heinrich Introduces Bill to Improve Access to Rental Housing

DEPOSIT Act could help more than 12,000 New Mexican families access rental housing

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) introduced the Delivering Essential Protection, Opportunity, and Security for Tenants (DEPOSIT) Act. An important piece of addressing the housing crisis, this legislation will help low-income renters overcome the barrier of security deposit payments when moving into new housing. U.S. Representative Barbara Lee (D-Cali.) has introduced companion legislation in the House. 

“We have a serious housing crisis in New Mexico and across the country. 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,” said Heinrich. “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 month’s rent. This legislation unlocks 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.”

“Housing is a human right. But in our community in the Bay, in California, and across the country, renters face huge barriers to secure housing and make monthly rent – with security deposits being one of the largest. With housing costs and general cost of living skyrocketing, there should be relief for people to ensure they have shelter. I’m excited to work with Senator 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,” said Lee.

In New Mexico, an estimated 12,000 New Mexicans Households receive Housing Choice Vouchers. The DEPOSIT Act would ensure that those enrolled in the Housing Choice Voucher Program can pay security deposits and get into a rental home.

Currently, security deposit assistance programs are inconsistent across the country, with state and local housing authorities supplementing assistance with non-profits and community organizations. The DEPOSIT Act would expand federal support for essential moving costs, like security deposits, for Section 8 voucher holders and other low-income renters.

The bill has been endorsed by numerous housing agencies and organizations across New Mexico, 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.

“Albuquerque residents struggle to find safe and affordable housing in the current competitive housing market.  Albuquerque Housing Authority has experienced firsthand the impact that housing search assistance funds, like what would be provided through the DEPOSIT ACT, can have in helping households with a voucher be competitive in this housing market,” said Linda Bridge, Albuquerque Housing Authority Executive Director.   

“With the lack of affordable housing, the high cost of rent and low wages, many families are dependent on the federally funded housing programs. These families could lose their housing vouchers because of the lack of money for the deposit, first and last month’s rent. The DEPOSIT Act will greatly assist in assisting these families with this cost and in turn helping to keep these families housed. Housing is a human right and with this Act, it will ensure that more families are housed. The New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness supports the DEPOSIT Act because it will directly impact so many families across are state, as well as across the country,” said Monet Silva, Executive Director of the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness.

 “Families are struggling to move into affordable housing. In many cases, they lose their federally-funded housing vouchers because they lack the financial resources to pay the deposit, first month's rent, last month's rent, and utility connection fees - which can total thousands of dollars,”said Catherine Hummel, DreamTree Project Executive Director. “The DEPOSIT Act supports working families in moving into housing by creating a revolving fund to cover upfront costs. This not only helps low-income families, it also helps housing programs to work more efficiently by reducing the number of vouchers that are not utilized.”

“NMHC has long supported reforms to the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program  and other HUD programs that will help apartment residents and their families overcome the challenges of securing attainable housing due the national shortage of rental housing.   The DEPOSIT Act is an important step toward making HUD more effective in supporting households in need of a safe and affordable apartment home,” said National Multifamily Housing Council President Sharon Wilson Géno. 

The DEPOSIT Act is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), and Peter Welch (Vt.) 

The full text of Senator Heinrich’s DEPOSIT Act is available here. A fact sheet is available here.