The Cancel Rent DC Movement

No Evictions. No Rent Debt. No Displacement.

Cancel Rent DC Demands:

  • Cancel Rent for everyone who has been economically impacted by COVID:
    • Tenants will not accrue debt for nonpayment of rent; 
    • Tenants will not face eviction due to nonpayment of rent in the pandemic;
    • Tenants will not owe fees for missed payments; and
    • Landlords cannot report non-payment to credit reporting agencies
  • Landlords will receive reimbursement for missed rent payments. 
    • The city will use local and federal resources so that landlords get compensation for rent that tenants owe in the pandemic + 365 days.
    • In order for landlords to apply for relief funds they must commit to:
      • A 5 year rent freeze for the tenant’s unit
      • Maintaining their buildings up to code 
        • Note: The city (e.g. – AG’s office) will have ability to clawback money given to landlords if they don’t meet these two requirements

Cancel Rent DC is a coalition of 12 community organizations, representing thousands of District residents, united to prevent mass eviction and displacement of long-time residents from the District, especially Black and Brown residents, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As DC faces a looming crisis in hunger, homelessness, and eviction, many tenants are struggling to make ends meet. We believe no one in our city should be made homeless as the result of a global health emergency.

Canceling rent means a fully-funded program that meets the actual need of DC residents and a more equitable share of the responsibility for averting an eviction crisis.

Key elements of the Cancel Rent Proposal:

    • No evictions & no debt due to pandemic
    • No use of means testing – Tenants should be able to self certify
    • Burden of applying for relief will fall on the landlords
    • Funds for landlords should have certain contingencies for landlords
    • Funds for landlords will be paid for by both federal and local funds 
    • Develop a relief mechanism for tenants who paid rent even under economic hardship
    • The City will commit to spending more money later if needed for future landlord relief

Why is rent and mortgage forgiveness needed in DC?

As of mid-October, an estimated 34,000 tenants – or 12% – are behind on rent, according to the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute. This, coupled with the already untenable displacement of longtime Black DC residents, as well as immigrant and working-class families, calls for more serious interventions. The vast majority of low-income DC residents are workers who do not have the savings needed to get by without work for many months. These workers have been forced out of work through no fault of their own and in dire need of assistance now. Moreover, this is not a new phenomenon. The pandemic has simply expedited a disenfranchisement of Black and now Brown folks that have been taking place in DC for decades. This is a racial and economic equity/justice and public health issue and we have not begun to reckon with the mass devastation covid-19 has caused.

Why are Mayor Bowser’s current rental assistance programs insufficient?

While the DC’s Housing Stabilization Grants put the onus for seeking relief on the landlords, $10 million is not sufficient to address the impending crisis. Under this program, as little as 625 households could receive relief. It’s great that $10M has been earmarked for this program, but we need to be seeing $10M a month.

Additional funding is available through the COVID Housing Assistance Program (CHAP) and other tenant-based housing assistance programs. However, these programs provide less than $20M in additional funding and put the onus on the tenant to apply, resulting in poor response times and difficult application processes for tenants.

Based on Census Pulse data, Stout predicts the estimated range of rent shortfall in DC by January 2021 will be $66 – $119 million.  The Brookings Institute estimated the need in DC at $10.6 million per month to assist households earning up to $40,000 annually to avoid eviction. To cover April 2020 through January 2021 rents, this would be approximately $106 million.