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Lawmakers propose bill to cancel rent, mortgage payments during pandemic

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SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) has introduced legislation that would cancel rent and mortgage payments across the United States during the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act, rent and mortgage payment cancelations would be available to all Americans, regardless of income, and there will be no debt accumulation or negative impact on credit ratings or rental histories for renters and homeowners.

A relief fund would be established for landlords and mortgage holders to cover losses from canceled payments.

The bill proposes a moratorium on payments to last one calendar month after the end of the national emergency, which was declared in March.

The bill also calls for the suspension to retroactively cover payments made in April.  

Landlords or mortgage holders who take action against tenants or property owners would be subject to fines starting at $5,000 for first violations and up to $50,000 for third or subsequent violations. 

The bill is co-sponsored by Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), Pramila Jayapal (Wash.), Mark Pocan (Wis.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), Veronica Escobar (Texas), Jesús García (Ill.) and Grace Meng (N.Y.). 

The legislation comes after Americans continue to struggle during the ongoing pandemic.

The wave of layoffs that has engulfed the U.S. economy since the coronavirus struck forced 5.2 million more people to seek unemployment benefits last week, the government reported.

Roughly 22 million have sought jobless benefits in the past month — easily the worst stretch of U.S. job losses on record. All told, roughly nearly 12 million people are now receiving unemployment checks, roughly matching the peak reached in January 2010, shortly after the Great Recession officially ended.

This even after the federal government has begun making stimulus payments to millions of Americans.

The first wave of payments began rolling out last week, with the IRS preparing to issue paper checks to individuals who do not have direct deposit information on file.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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