Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act and Housing
Below is a summary of the housing portion of the relief act just passed by Congress.
On March 25, 2020, the Committee on Appropriations, Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy, released a summary of Senate Bill 3548, now known as the “The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.” The Act offers several areas to relieve pressure on those facing housing needs. Below is a summary of those provisions.
Community Development Block Grant–$5 billion is provided for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program to enable nearly 1,240 states, counties, and cities to rapidly respond to COVID-19 and the economic and housing impacts caused by it, including the expansion of community health facilities, child care centers, food banks, and senior services. Of the amounts provided, $2 billion will be allocated to states and units of local governments that received an allocation under the fiscal year 2020 CDBG formula, $1 billion will go directly to states to support a coordinated response across entitlement and non-entitlement communities, and $2 billion will be allocated to states and units of local government, cities and counties based on the prevalence and risk of COVID-19 and related economic and housing disruption.
In order to ensure resources are quickly deployed and meet the unique response needs to COVID-19, the bill eliminates the cap on the amount of funds a grantee can spend on public services, removes the requirement to hold in-person public hearings in order to comply with national and local social gathering requirements, and allows grantees to be reimbursed for COVID-19 response activities regardless of the date the costs were incurred. This funding builds on $6.7 billion provided in fiscal years 2019 and 2020 by allowing grantees to combine prior year funds with new funding in order to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19.
Emergency Solutions Grants–$4 billion is included to address the impact of COVID-19 among individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and to support additional homeless assistance, prevention, and eviction prevention assistance. Eviction prevention activities including rapid rehousing, housing counseling, and rental deposit assistance will mitigate the adverse impacts of the pandemic on working families.
Rental Assistance Protections for Low-Income Americans–$3 billion is included for housing providers to help more than 4.5 million low-income households made up of more than 9.6 million individuals currently assisted by HUD to safely remain in their homes or access temporary housing assistance in response to economic and housing disruptions caused by COVID-19.
This funding will help low-income and working-class Americans avoid evictions and minimize any impacts caused by loss of employment, and child care, or other unforeseen circumstances related to COVID-19. This includes:
- $1.935 billion to allow public housing agencies (PHAs) to keep over 3.2 million Section 8 voucher and public housing households stably housed;
- $1 billion to allow the continuation of housing assistance contracts with private landlords for over 1.2 million Project-Based Section 8 households;
- $65 million for housing for the elderly and persons with disabilities for rental assistance, service coordinators, and support services for the more than 114,000 affordable households for the elderly and over 30,000 affordable households for low-income persons with disabilities; and
- $65 million for Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS in order to maintain rental assistance and expand operational and administrative flexibilities for housing and supportive service providers to assist nearly 61,000 households. Given that this population is particularly vulnerable, the bill includes temporary relocation services to contain and prevent the spread of COVID-19 for these at-risk households.
Indian Housing–$300 million is secured for Native American Programs, which includes $200 million for the Indian Housing Block Grant program and $100 million for imminent threats to health and safety as a result of COVID-19.
Emergency Food and Shelter Program–$200 million for shelter, food and supportive services to individuals and families in sudden economic crisis.
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)–The bill includes $900 million to help lower income households heat and cool their homes.