LANSING, Mich. (March 3, 2022) — Sen. Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) today introduced legislation to seal certain eviction records to promote housing stability among low- to moderate-income families.
Senate Bill 949 would provide opportunities for certain eviction records to be sealed. It would also provide the courts with discretion on records that are at least five years old but require the sealing of them in certain cases — such as tenants residing in foreclosed properties and evictions filed during a declared state of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As rent burden grows and wages remain stagnant, it is critical we re-evaluate policies that could or do hold people back from experiencing the security that comes with having a place to call home,” Sen. Brinks said. “Housing instability affects more than just the people who pay the rent — it affects whole families, including children, which research has found equates to worse health, more hospitalizations and greater developmental risks than their counterparts with stable housing.”
A report by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University found that nearly half of all renters in the U.S. report being moderately or severely cost-burdened, meaning that they pay more than 30-50% of their income on rent. Additionally, the National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates more than 200,000 affordable and accessible rental homes are needed in Michigan alone for extremely low-income renters.
“Senator Brinks’ bill would remove an unfair barrier to securing rental housing that currently hinders too many Michigan families in their challenging enough search for housing,” said Jim Schaafsma, a housing attorney with the Michigan Poverty Law Program.
“We owe it to families suffering the array of negative effects of housing instability to give them an opportunity to get back on their feet and provide for their loved ones,” Sen. Brinks added. “My legislation is just a start in this direction. I am eager to continue fighting for families who have struggled to keep up with the rising cost of housing over the last several years by removing this barrier to attaining safe, affordable housing.”
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