Rep. Omar introduces Agenda 21

Without respect to the fact that states have the authority to regulate housing contracts, Ilhan Omar uses a viral smokescreen to begin implementing some of the worst features of Agenda 21, the leftist promise that the government will provide affordable housing for everyone. On March 11, she introduced H.R. 1847, a bill “To suspend obligations of residential renters and mortgagors to make payments during the COVID-19 emergency, and for other purposes.” So far only a draft of the text is available.  

Essentially, the bill says that real property tenants can stop paying their landlords. Our country was not founded on the moral code that one is not responsible for one’s obligations and debts. However, these socialists would make it so.

Unsurprisingly, this bill is full of problems. It provides for a COVID suspension period ending April 2022 (Sec. 8(3)), but the landlord relief fund runs for five years (Sec. 5 (c)(1)). It seems as if it’s planning to extend for up to five years a tenant’s freedom from rent obligations, should the bill become law.

Under H.R. 1847, tenants may simply stop paying their rent, without restriction, for a period of one year (for now). There is no means-testing to determine if rent relief is warranted. In fact, the bill doesn’t even require that the tenant notify the landlord. However, our taxpayer money will go to notify every renter in the country of this provision (Sec. 3(c)). No mention is made of notifying every landlord, yet landlords can be held responsible, to the point of forfeiting their property if they ignorantly, but in accordance with their lawful contract, pursue their tenants for rent (Sec. 4).

While tenants can just withhold money, landlords must apply for relief of unpaid rent (Sec. 5). The requirements are onerous and include freezing the rent for a period of five years regardless of the market – a provision that could cut both ways. The owner must agree to rent vacant units to HUD and other tenant-assistance grantees, even if it is apparent that the tenant cannot afford usual utilities. In some localities, landlords are on the hook for unpaid utility bills in occupied dwellings.

Potential tenants cannot be rejected for their arrest and conviction history, presumably including a history of arson, running a brothel, destroying rented housing, cooking meth at home, drug dealing, or pedophilia even if the unit is across the street from a school. Too bad, landlords, when your insurance rates triple due to this law, but your ability to charge rent is still frozen.

Applications for rent relief must include Personally Identifiable Information for any person with any ownership interest in the property, except for shareholders in a publicly-traded company; an unrestricted list of all their assets and liabilities; and comprehensive info on all rentals in which they have an interest, not just the one on the application. This, of course, is specifically designed to give the federal government a complete listing of all rental housing in America, and a basis for implementing a wealth tax.  

The communism begins to sneak in in Sec. 5(e), where priority for landlord reimbursement is tiered based on income. Non-profit owners and those with the fewest assets get the highest priority.

Rental property owners get totally trashed if they own a multi-family (five or more dwelling units) structure (Sec. 7). For five years, they cannot sell or transfer their property -- presumably, this includes transfers via a trust to one’s heirs -- without the permission of HUD, which will notify all eligible purchasers that the property is available. This is a prima facie violation of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.

The first right of purchase will go to non-profit or other such housing organizations, at a sale price that HUD approves. We the People…er, sorry, HUD will pay for this housing. We will also pay for operations and maintenance costs, seemingly in perpetuity (Sec. 7(f)(2)). Nothing in this draft bill prevents these guv-funded purchasers from turning around and selling the property. There’s no reimbursement provision at all. Not a bad gig, but on the other hand….

New owners of multi-family facilities face life-of-the-facility-long restrictions, including no refusing housing based on criminal history or immigration status (Sec. 7(d)(4)). Hide your teenage daughters, you other tenants, because that means that these private, public, or quasi-governmental organizations must rent to MS-13 if they show up at the door. This provision also abrogates the short-term public charge requirements of immigration law for most legal immigrants -- a feature of immigration statutes that pre-dates Trump, going back to 1882.

Tenants must be provided with comprehensive social services, regardless of whether they are already provided with these services in the community outside the facility (Sec. 7(d)(5)).

The coup de gras is found in Sec. 7(d)(6) “Tenants of the project shall have control of living and operating conditions…”

But here’s what Omar’s bill doesn’t mention: H.R. 1319 – the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (i.e., $1.9 T boondoggle bill) – which Biden signed into law on March 12, contains a provision for housing assistance, essentially for every category of need, under Subtitle B Housing (sections 3201 – 3208). This assistance continues for 18 months.

What this means is that there is no need at all for Omar’s little one-year bill. Her bill is a trap to get We the People to pay for everyone’s housing and it’s the opening gambit to bring all housing under the control of the federal government.

And there’s your Agenda 21 “affordable housing for all.”

Anony Mee is a retired public servant and a landlord, very grateful that the tenant pays on time.

IMAGE: Apartment for rent by Steve Damron. CC BY 2.0.