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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

Surprising pandemic side effect: Soaring trade deficits

Source: Census Bureau and Bureau of Economic Analysis; Chart: Axios Visuals

Inflation and jobs may get all the economic headlines, but meanwhile a big shift is taking place in the underpinnings of the world economy: The U.S. trade deficit is soaring.

What's happening: Americans' spending on imported physical goods has gone through the roof, while exports are growing slowly, making the U.S. the world's consumer of last resort.

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Third Way: "Big Lie" could become "Big Coup"

Graphic: Third Way

Third Way, the center-left think tank, is urging fellow Democrats to respond to the Capitol riot with "the size, scope, and seriousness of a presidential campaign," co-founder Matt Bennett tells me.

Driving the news: "For the first time in U.S. history, a party must mount two parallel presidential campaigns: one to win the election, and the other to prevent its theft," Bennett said, calling this "a Paul Revere moment."

Advocates say Biden has let Haitian migrants down

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Christian Torres/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Continued turmoil in Haiti is causing a growing number of Haitians to try to make it to American shores — and some advocates say the Biden administration isn't supporting this community in its time of crisis.

The big picture: Haitian-American activists in South Florida told Axios Today they feel like President Biden has gone back on campaign promises he made to the community to stand up for them.