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NLIHC Launches New State and Local Innovation Project

New project will focus on empowering a movement to strengthen tenants’ rights, prevent evictions, and promote housing stability for renter households with the lowest incomes.

Washington, D.C. – The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) announced today the launch of its new State and Local Innovation (SLI) project. Building on the success of NLIHC’s End Rental Arrears to Stop Evictions (ERASE) initiative, the State and Local Innovation project will support state and local partners in advancing, implementing, and enforcing state and local tenant protections, sustaining emergency rental assistance (ERA) programs, preventing the criminalization of homelessness, and supporting the advancement of other innovations that seek to keep eviction rates down and prevent homelessness. The SLI project also aims to shape and inform federal policies that address the needs of the lowest-income and most marginalized renters in the U.S.

“With rents rising, ERA programs shuttering, and the shortage of affordable homes growing worse, the lowest-income renters are more exposed than ever to housing instability, evictions, and in the worst cases, homelessness,” said NLIHC Vice President of State and Local Innovation Sarah Gallagher. “The State and Local Innovation project will support innovative policy ideas at the local level that strengthen tenants’ rights and ensure housing stability for the lowest-income renter households across the country.”

The State and Local Innovation project builds on the success of NLIHC’s ERASE project, which ran from January 2021 to December 2023. ERASE worked alongside state and local partners to ensure that the historic $46.5 billion in ERA passed by Congress during the pandemic reached the lowest-income and most marginalized renters for whom it was intended. By informing and improving ERA program design, the ERASE project helped create more visible, accessible, and preventative ERA programs that ultimately helped keep millions of renters housed during a severe public health crisis. ERASE also supported state and local partners’ efforts to pass, implement, and enforce tenant protections that ensured renters were able to stay housed once they received rental assistance. Since January 2021, more than 280 such protections have been passed in states and localities around the country.

Now, however, as ERA programs run out of funds, rents keep rising, and wages remain stagnant, the need for state and local solutions to the affordable housing crisis is more pronounced than ever. To meet this need, the SLI project will include many initiatives. For example, the project will launch this year a National Tenant Protections Network bringing together state and local advocacy organizations, tenants, elected officials, legal aid organizations, and other stakeholders to share ideas and lessons learned and support each other’s tenant protection advocacy efforts.

The SLI project will also release an array of tenant protection tools and resources – including draft bill language, toolkits, frequently asked questions documents, and research briefs – that aim to support state and local passage and implementation of key tenant protections, including “just cause” eviction standards, rent stabilization ordinances, laws that strengthen code enforcement and habitability standards, and laws that limit “junk fees.”

The SLI project will also track state and local tenant protections through NLIHC’s State and Local Tenant Protections Database, while also documenting  permanent state and local emergency rental assistance programs and advocating for their passage, along with passage of the federal “Eviction Crisis Act.” Likewise, the SLI project will release tools and resources to support state and local solutions for ending homelessness and combatting efforts to criminalize homelessness.

“Recently, many of the boldest and most robust policy innovations supporting low-income renters have originated at the state and local levels,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel. “NLIHC’s new SLI project will identify, strengthen, and expand these local efforts to protect tenants’ rights, sustain emergency rental assistance, and end homelessness, while also building an evidence-base for long-term federal solutions.”

To learn more, visit NLIHC’s new State and Local Innovation webpage here.