Washington, D.C. – Following Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley’s introduction of the End Hedge Fund Control of American Homes Act, state and local leaders in Oregon have enthusiastically responded in support of his bill.
“The housing in our neighborhoods should be homes for people, not profit centers for Wall Street,” said Senator Merkley. “It’s time for Congress to put in place commonsense guardrails that ensure all families have a fair chance to buy or rent a home in their community at a price they can afford.”
In order to meet Americans’ housing needs and root out systemic inequities in the housing market, the End Hedge Fund Control of American Homes Act bans hedge funds and private equity investors from owning large numbers of homes by establishing an annual $20,000 federal tax penalty for each single family home owned by a single company and its affiliates over 100 homes. The bill allows companies with large portfolios to sell homes over several years to come into compliance so there’s an orderly exit, and includes incentives to make sure buyers of divested homes are ordinary people who will live in the home. The tax penalties collected will be used to provide down payment assistance to homebuyers.
Here’s what local elected officials and non-profit leaders are saying:
“When large corporations monopolize too much of the housing market, that drives up rents and puts first time homeownership opportunities further out of reach for a majority of Oregon residents. The percentage of Oregon homes sold to investors vs. families increased by 67% between 2020 and 2021. In 2021, investors bought 20% of homes sold in Oregon, a total of 16,781 homes. We believe that homes should house people, and not be used purely as an investment vehicle for Wall Street,” said Steve Messinetti, President and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Portland Region.
“Sen. Merkley’s tireless work, along with that of the rest of our federal delegation, is greatly appreciated as we all seek to bring affordability back to our housing market through innovative legislative proposals such as this one. By working together at the federal, regional and county levels, we can support, build and preserve affordable housing which protects the ability of families in our community to find housing for ownership,” said Kathryn Harrington, Washington County Board Chair.
“Right now everyday Americans must compete with hedge funds and corporations when purchasing a house. We don’t have their deep pockets and when they outbid us our housing prices and rental costs skyrocket with profound local impacts. Thank you to Senator Merkley for putting together a bill limiting a decidedly unfair practice,” said Heather Buch, Lane County Commissioner.
“This is a much-needed step in preserving housing affordability. In Oregon, especially in Portland, a crisis of housing affordability is also fueling a crisis of homelessness. Corporate ownership of housing is driving up prices and squeezing people out of their homes – homes that should house families, not hedge funds. I am very grateful to Senator Merkley for his leadership on this important issue,” said Susheela Jayapal, Multnomah County Commissioner.
“Oregon is in the middle of a housing affordability crisis driven by multiple factors, including the consolidation of ownership by huge hedge funds. I’m deeply grateful to Senator Merkley for stepping up to confront the mercenary entities that exploit renters to drive unconscionable profits,” said Pam Marsh, State Representative (D-District 5-Southern Jackson County).
“This is an issue that transcends party or region — it strikes at the very heart of what we consider one of the basic needs for survival: shelter. I encourage each of you to contact your state and federal representatives and urge them to support Senator Merkley’s proposal,” said Mayor Linda Watkins, City of Carlton.