February 17, 2023

Congresswoman Barbara Lee Introduces Bill to Provide Security Deposit Assistance for Low-Income Renters

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-12), senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, today introduced the Delivering Essential Protection, Opportunity, and Security for Tenants (DEPOSIT) Act to provide federal funding to low-income renters to assist with security deposit payments. 

There are at least 2.26 million active Section 8 vouchers and 14.7 million very low income renters who face cost burdens with housing. In California, where the average statewide rent is roughly $2,950, that could mean paying $5,900 or more upfront to landlords. Security deposits in the state are currently capped at two months’ rent. 

The DEPOSIT Act would ensure that the benefit of security deposit assistance becomes much more widely available, consistent, and receives federal funding at a scale that would help millions of Americans pay security deposits and get into a rental home. 

Currently, security deposit assistance programs are inconsistent across the country, with state and local housing authorities supplementing assistance with non-profits and community organizations.  The DEPOSIT Act would expand federal support for essential moving costs, like security deposits, for Section 8 voucher holders and other low-income renters.

“Housing is a human right. But in our community in the Bay, in California, and across the country, renters face huge barriers to secure housing and make monthly rent – with security deposits being one of the largest,” said Congresswoman Lee. “Young people or the elderly in particular lack access to the amount of cash necessary to pay double their monthly rent at the start of a lease. With housing costs and general cost of living skyrocketing, there should be relief for people to ensure they have shelter. 

The DEPOSIT Act would expand the Section 8 and HOME Program[s] to fund security deposit assistance and ensure everyone has access to a home. I’m excited to generate bipartisan support with my colleagues in Congress to fund this important program because homelessness knows no political affiliation. It’s time the federal government get off the sidelines and work to combat America’s housing crisis.”

The DEPOSIT Act would also set up a revolving fund to provide security deposit assistance to low- and very low-income renters. This section is modeled on the American Dream Down payment Initiative (ADDI)—a bipartisan effort from President George W. Bush’s tenure to provide down payments to first-time homebuyers.  Additionally, the bill would require the Department of Housing and Urban Development to do a study of the impact on “alternatives to security deposits”; these are insurance-like products where renters pay a monthly fee to a third-party company.

For full text of the bill, click here.