For the last 8 months, a coalition of mayors, city council members, local legislators, and Kairos, have been fighting to get $1,500 checks (on average) into the hands of the nearly 43 million American renters. That’s $300 more per person than the biggest stimulus checks sent out in March and $900 more than this recent round.
And yet, it’s likely you haven’t heard of our work. In a world that often pays attention to controversy over common-sense, it’s hard to break through the cacophony of voices shouting about Donald Trump’s latest Twitter rant, or the fly on Mike Pence’s head.
What we’re fighting for is the kind of common-sense, policy proposal – championed at the local level – that would actually help people. The kind of pragmatic initiative that is easily lost amidst the never-ending onslaught of reality TV performances.
But in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, we can’t wait any longer to make it a reality.
We have watched with dismay as our federal government failed for nine months to pass desperately-needed stimulus bill
But here’s a stimulus number you likely haven’t heard: $45 billion. As in, there are $45 billion currently locked up in security deposits around the country – an average of nearly $1,500 per American renter. This money – our money – is sitting in escrow accounts unusable by tenants and landlords alike.
The impact of this lost capital cannot be overstated. With rising student debt, higher rent costs, and growing credit card debt, more than 40% of Americans can no longer afford a $400 emergency expense. And given a median national rent of just under $1,000/month, a one-month security deposit can be a huge financial strain. The problem is even worse in cities like New York and San Francisco where rent is higher and average security deposits are therefore 3–4x more.
A security deposit is money that protects landlords from tenant damages to their property. As it turns out, we have another word for money that secures stakeholders against future losses: insurance. Security deposits are a form of insurance and other forms of insurance are perfect substitutes for a security deposit.
So this is what we need to do now: offer every American renter the choice between paying a high up-front security deposit or opting into a low-cost monthly insurance plan instead.
And we have proof of concept. Since the start of the pandemic, Kairos has returned over $200 million to renters through our product, Rhino, and our coalition has unlocked another $1.3 billion in cities around the country, including in Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Cincinnati.
“THERE WERE LITERALLY TENANTS CRYING TEARS OF GRATITUDE AT CITY HALL,” CINCINNATI CITY COUNCILMAN, P.G. SITTENFELD SAID, WHEN RENTER STIMULUS PASSED IN HIS CITY.
With one-third of Americans having burned through all or most of their savings since the start of the pandemic, it’s no wonder.
In the wake of pervasive federal inaction, it’s time for local city and state officials to step up. Security deposits represent a $45 billion stimulus for renters, for the people that need it most. Renters are young people, people with lower incomes, and, disproportionately, people of color.
A renter stimulus along the lines we’re proposing is a common-sense solution that helps many of our most vulnerable populations when we need it most. This explains why over 100 mayors, city council members, and local legislators have already signed a letter supporting it (LINK).
In just over one month, the CDC’s eviction moratorium will come to an end. What will happen then is anyone’s guess. What is not up for debate is the millions of American renters who are struggling and in desperate need of relief now.
This Renter Stimulus effort hurts no one and helps millions. Join us and call your local representatives to ask for Renter Stimulus now (Link to renter stimulus page)