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Sen. Josh Hawley. Photo: Michael Brochstein / Echoes Wire / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) is introducing legislation on Monday directing public housing officials to better track landlords who do not maintain basic living standards for tenants.

Why it matters: Renters' rights are getting more attention as the nation's affordable housing crisis worsens in nearly all communities.

Details: The Bad Landlord Database Act would require the Department of Housing and Urban Development to create a database of contract violations and terminations with landlords participating in the Housing Choice Voucher Program. Under the law, local public housing authorities would have to report negligent landlords to federal officials.

  • "Bad landlords ... have taken advantage of tenants, failed to provide them the most basic living standards, forced them to live in squalor — all while demanding rent and bills continued to be paid. And because their properties span jurisdictions, they have gotten away with it," Hawley said in a press release.

Background: The legislation was spurred by federal and local investigations into T.E.H. Realty, which owns properties that have received housing assistance payments across the Midwest, including St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri, and Kansas City, Kansas.

  • Local media reported repeated violations of requirements to maintain housing quality standards. Reports of mice, mold, and plumbing issues surfaced, as well as tenants living without working furnaces and refrigerators.
  • The local public housing authorities cut ties with T.E.H. Realty. HUD has opened an investigation into T.E.H. Realty.
  • Currently, HUD does not maintain a database of landlord violations or a system to notify other housing authorities. So other cities may not be aware of the violations and enter contracts with the offending landlords.

What they're saying: The bill has the support of Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas and Legal Aid of Western Missouri.

  • "This bill is a welcome step to improve federal oversight of bad actor landlords and to reinforce protections I have already enacted in Kansas City with the recent passage of a Tenants' Rights package," Lucas said in a statement. "We need more of this type of collaborative policymaking — especially on critical issues such as housing that impact every family."

Go deeper: Renter protections on the rise in response to sky-high housing costs

Go deeper

House passes $1.9 trillion COVID relief package

Photo: Screenshot via C-SPAN

The House approved President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief package on a 219-212 vote early Saturday morning, sending it to the Senate for a possible rewrite before it gets to Biden's desk.

The big picture: The vote was a critical first step for the package, which includes $1,400 cash payments for many Americans, a national vaccination program, ramped-up COVID testing and contact tracing, state and local funding and money to help schools reopen.

10 hours ago - Health

Biden says it's "not the time to relax" after touring vaccination site

President Biden speaking after visiting a FEMA Covid-19 vaccination facility in Houston on Feb. 26. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Friday that "it's not the time to relax" coronavirus mitigation efforts and warned that the number of cases and hospitalizations could rise again as new variants of the virus emerge.

Why it matters: Biden, who made the remarks after touring a vaccination site in Houston, echoed CDC director Rochelle Walensky, who said earlier on Friday that while the U.S. has seen a recent drop in cases and hospitalizations, "these declines follow the highest peak we have experienced in the pandemic."

Updated 11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Most COVID-19 survivors can weather risk of reinfection, study says — "Twindemic" averted as flu reports plummet amid coronavirus crisis
  2. Vaccine: FDA advisory panel endorses J&J COVID vaccine for emergency use — About 20% of U.S. adults have received first vaccine dose, White House says — New data reignites the debate over coronavirus vaccine strategy.
  3. Economy: What's really going on with the labor market.
  4. Local: All adult Minnesotans will likely be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by summer — Another wealthy Florida community receives special access to COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Sports: Poll weighs impact of athlete vaccination.