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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

Updated 31 mins ago - Sports

Japan's Naomi Osaka lights Olympic cauldron, kicking off Tokyo Games

Naomi Osaka lights the Olympic cauldron. Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images

After a year-long delay, the Olympics finally got underway Friday as tennis star Naomi Osaka, who is competing for Japan, lit the cauldron, formally kicking off the Tokyo Games.

The big picture: Friday's opening ceremony looked, like many things over the last year, different than normal — multicolored seats replaced cheering fans, masks were a central part of the athletes' uniforms and a subdued, somber tone marked the occasion.

1 hour ago - World

China sanctions Wilbur Ross, 5 other Americans over Hong Kong warnings

Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Chinese government imposed sanctions on Monday against six Americans, including former Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, in response to an advisory from the Biden administration warning businesses of the increased risks of operating in Hong Kong.

Why it matters: It's the latest example of China responding furiously to U.S. attempts to shed light on human rights abuses in places like Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet, which Chinese officials routinely condemn as "interference" in domestic affairs.

3 hours ago - Sports

Cleveland Indians change name to "Guardians"

The Cleveland Indians baseball team announced Friday that it will change its name to the "Guardians," following years of activism and protests against a moniker considered offensive by many Native Americans.

Why it matters: It's the first time the team will change its name since 1915, a move that comes in the wake of the nationwide racial reckoning that began with the murder of George Floyd.