Bernie Sanders calls for rent, mortgage freeze

Presidential candidate wants measures included in next federal relief package

Bernie Sanders (Credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Bernie Sanders (Credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is calling for a freeze on rent and mortgage payments as part of the next federal relief package.

Sanders urged Congress on Friday to suspend monthly expenses, including rent, mortgage payments, medical debt and consumer debt collection, for four months, as part of a list of priorities he believes legislators should include in the next stimulus bill. The Vermont Senator is calling for these payments to be completely halted during that four-month period, rather than deferred.

“We are entering an economic downturn that could be worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s,” Sanders said. “In this unprecedented moment in modern American history, it is imperative that we respond in an unprecedented way.

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The $2 trillion stimulus package signed into law last week doesn’t offer direct relief for landlords. They may, however, benefit indirectly from a few measures that could help tenants make rent payments. Individuals making $75,000 or less are eligible for a one-time $1,200 check. Unemployment insurance has also been expanded.

Still, there’s growing fear among landlords that calls for rent strikes will gain momentum. Last week, Sanders threw his support behind New York Sen. Michael Gianaris’ rent-suspension bill, which would forgive rent and mortgage payments for 90 days.

Last week, a record 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment insurance. The next stimulus bill has yet to take shape. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has proposed rolling back the limit on state and local tax deductions, known as SALT. Lifting the cap, which bars households from deducting more than $10,000 a year in SALT expenses, would mean larger federal tax rebates for millions.