State Reps. Fiedler, Innamorato, Lee and Otten to introduce legislation freezing rents and mortgages during pandemic

HARRISBURG, March 30- Pennsylvanians are experiencing layoffs and furloughs in unparalleled numbers due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, and they need relief. On Friday, state Reps. Elizabeth Fiedler, D-Phila, Sara Innamorato, D-Allegheny, Summer Lee, D-Allegheny, and Danielle Friel Otten, D-Chester, announced they are working on legislation to ease the burden on and increase protections for all Pennsylvanians by implementing a rent and mortgage freeze.

“Across the commonwealth, families are facing the terrifying prospect of not being able to pay their rent or mortgage for the foreseeable future,” Fiedler said. “People are making choices about whether they will pay their mortgage or rent, buy food, or pay for medicine. By freezing rent and mortgage payments we can ease some of the financial stress our constituents face right now.”

"These bills uphold a social contract: we're asking folks to stay home, so our responsibility is to protect those homes," Innamorato said. "April 1st is right around the corner and we have to keep people safe and economically secure as they navigate an unprecedented crisis."

Other states are also looking at ways to provide relief from rent and mortgage payments; New York’s state legislature has introduced S8125A, a bill suspending rent payments for certain residential and small business tenants for 90 days, while both New York’s and New Jersey’s governors announced a 90-day grace period for many mortgages.

“The COVID-19 virus has revealed just how important a strong safety net is to a thriving and resilient twenty-first century economy,” Otten said. “As we face an unknown and invisible threat to our very way of life, we must strive to ensure the safety and security of every citizen in our commonwealth.  Just as the stock market has a circuit breaker function to protect shareholders and investors, our housing market needs a circuit breaker to protect homeowners and renters in these unprecedented times, to enable them to do their part to stay calm, stay safe and stay at home so that we can flatten the curve and save lives.”

“We need to institute infrastructure which protects our families, friends, and neighbors in emergencies,” Lee said. “We understand that this will not alleviate all the problems associated with the COVID crisis, but we have to take steps to secure the livelihood of our constituents and this is the first rung in that process. We can’t risk people being put out on the street in the middle of a pandemic; shelter-in-place, isn’t possible if housing isn’t secure. We hope to implement legislation which comprehensively protects our population — and right now, this is paramount.

“Housing is a human right,” Fiedler, Innamorato, Lee, and Otten all agreed. “We must do everything we can to protect each other during this time. Our families, neighborhoods, and communities are at stake.

“Together, we can ensure that we make it through these trying times,” they said.