The "HEROES Act" includes NLIHC's top priorities to ensure housing stability during and after the coronavirus pandemic for America's lowest-income people, but there is much more work to do.
Washington, DC - With today's passage of the “HEROES Act” in the House of Representatives, policymakers have taken an important step toward providing communities with the critical resources they need to prevent and respond to outbreaks among people experiencing homelessness and to keep America's lowest-income and most marginalized people stably housed during and after this public health crisis.
“Without major federal government intervention, our country will suffer a rash of evictions and a spike in homelessness. The affordable housing and homelessness provisions in the HEROES Act are urgently needed; the Senate should consider and vote on the legislation immediately,” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC). “The very least the federal government must do during a global pandemic with the highest level of job losses since the Great Depression is to ensure none us will lose our homes. The HEROES Act would do just that – by implementing a broad, uniform moratorium on nearly all evictions and foreclosures and providing $100 billion in emergency rental assistance to keep low-income renters stably housed during and after the public health emergency. These essential provisions allow us to avoid ending this crisis having saddled low-income renters with more debt or having lost some of our country’s essential housing stock.”
The HEROES Act builds on the successes advocates and our congressional champions accomplished in the CARES Act by extending eviction and foreclosure protections to nearly everyone and eliminating the confusion that had allowed landlords to carry out illegal evictions, putting the health and safety of individuals and their communities at risk. The bill also includes $100 billion in emergency rental assistance to help families afford to keep roofs over their heads and to avoid creating a financial cliff when eviction moratoriums are lifted and back-rent is owed. The HEROES Act incorporates the “Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act,” a proposal recently introduced by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Representatives Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Denny Heck (D-WA) that has garnered the broad support of 140 House cosponsors and 34 Senate cosponsors. Research from NLIHC confirms that at least $100 billion is needed to stably house renters with the lowest incomes.
The HEROES Act also includes the full $11.5 billion experts estimate is needed to allow people experiencing homelessness – whether in shelters or encampments – to practice social distancing and to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks that threaten the lives of these highly-vulnerable individuals. “People who are homeless and contract coronavirus are twice as likely to be hospitalized, two to four times as likely to require critical care, and two to three times as likely to die than others in the general public,” said Diane Yentel. “If unchecked, as many as 20,000 people who are homeless could require hospitalization and nearly 3,500 could die. This has enormous implications for individuals, their communities, and our hospital systems. Homeless service providers and individuals experiencing homelessness should not be made to wait any longer for the resources they need to stay safe during this pandemic.”
The HEROES Act also includes nearly $13 billion in additional resources to ensure housing stability, including funding for 100,000 new, emergency vouchers targeted to people experiencing homelessness, those individuals at risk of homelessness, and survivors of domestic violence. A provision that directs FEMA to provide Public Assistance (PA) Programs reimbursement at 100% federal cost-share is also included in the Act. This means that states, localities, and some eligible non-profits will be able to have all costs eligible under PA reimbursed instead of just 75%. A full analysis of the bill’s housing and homelessness provisions can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/y8w9ejth
NLIHC commends Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Chairwoman Maxine Waters, Chairman David Price, Representative Denny Heck and all 140 original cosponsors of the “Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act” for making housing and homelessness a priority in the HEROES Act. NLIHC and our partners across the nation will work with Congress to ensure these critically needed resources are included in any final coronavirus relief package and reach individuals with the greatest needs as quickly as possible.
About NLIHC: Established in 1974 by Cushing N. Dolbeare, the National Low Income Housing Coalition is dedicated solely to achieving socially just public policy that ensures people with the lowest income in the United States have affordable and decent homes.