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Grijalva Reintroduces "Right to Rent" Bill to Let Families Stay in Foreclosed Homes as Renters, Saying "We Can't Afford to Do Nothing"

Tucson, Ariz.– Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva last week introduced the Right to Rent Act of 2011 (H.R. 1548), an updated version of a bill he introduced in 2009 to allow families facing foreclosure to remain in their homes as renters by paying fair market value each month. Approximately one in 175 homes in Arizona received a foreclosure filing in January, second highest in the nation behind Nevada.

The Right to Rent Act provides a strong incentive for banks or other lenders to modify mortgages to avoid becoming landlords. The bill allows a single-family homeowner who has resided in the home for at least 2 years – and purchased before 2007 at or below the median home price for thatmetropolitan area– to rent the home for up to five years.

If a lender chooses to pursue foreclosure, the family has 25 business days to choose to rent and stay in the home as tenants, preventing the social problems, crime and lowered property values that often follow vacancies. This allows children to continue attending school and provides families adequate time to prepare a transition to a more permanent situation.

The proposal requires no additional tax dollars or federal agencies and provides immediate relief for millions of homeowners in foreclosure. The bill, designed to prevent empty neighborhoods and homelessness, has been referred to the House Committee on Financial Services, chaired by Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.).

“Housing shouldn’t be a politically charged issue – this is a basic question of fixing a problem we can’t ignore,” Grijalva said. “Democrat, Republican or independent, we’re all here in Congress to represent our constituents and make sure the federal government is acting in their best interests. Right now, we can’t afford to pretend those interests are served by us doing nothing.”

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