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Senator Hassan Leads Efforts to Address Eviction Crisis

WASHINGTON – In case you missed it, The New York Times published an article today highlighting efforts in Congress to curb evictions, including Senator Maggie Hassan’s bill, the Prevent Evictions Act, that would support landlords and tenants alike through cost-effective solutions to keep families in their homes. The bipartisan funding bill that the Senate passed in October included a piece of Senator Hassan’s bill that instructs the Department of Housing and Urban Development to move forward its analysis of eviction prevention insurance.

Highlights from The New York Times piece:

Many Renters Who Face Eviction Owe Less Than $600

Can Washington do something to help them? A growing number of politicians think so.

Among the millions of recent eviction cases researchers have begun to compile across the country, there are a startling number of modest sums. There are dozens of families in Texas evicted with money judgments — unpaid rent, late fees, court costs — totaling $516. There are multiple families in Cumberland County, N.C., who owed all of $301. There is a household in Providence, R.I., whose 2016 court record shows a debt of just $127.

Such relatively small sums suggest that, for all of the intractable problems of poverty and affordable housing driving the nation’s eviction crisis, a little intervention could help many people. And politicians in Washington increasingly have such ideas in mind: court translators, more legal aid, mediation — even emergency rent assistance.

[…] Several Democratic senators — Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Tim Kaine of Virginia and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland — introduced a bill this fall that would create federal grants for landlord-tenant mediation programs and translators.

[…] Many of these proposals are effectively trying to slow down the eviction process, or to create more alternatives to it.

“The court system has been set up so that the choice for the landlord is really eviction or nothing,” Ms. Hassan said.

Her bill would also charge the Department of Housing and Urban Development with studying insurance models that landlords or tenants could buy into to guard against the possibility of a missed rent payment.