Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) wrote to HUD Secretary Ben Carson on May 22 urging the department to move quickly in distributing more than $9 billion in housing and homelessness assistance appropriated by Congress through the CARES Act.
Department of the Treasury
The U.S. Treasury Department and the U.S. Small Business Administration announced on May 28 that $10 billion has been set aside for Round 2 funding for the Paycheck Protection Program to be lent exclusively by Community Development Financial Institutions.
FEMA announced on May 27 that it will extend the suspension of rent collection for Camp Fire survivors still in FEMA housing due to the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on these survivors.
The NLIHC-led Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition will continue to advocate a broad array of resources and protections, including emergency rental assistance and eviction prevention assistance, a national moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, and emergency funds for homelessness service providers, housing authorities, and housing providers, among other recommendations. For more information, see DHRC’s full list of recommendations.
The National League of Cities (NLC) discussed steps that some cities have taken to approve or expand overnight parking for individuals experiencing vehicular homelessness. NLC suggests that cities can use federal coronavirus relief funding to provide both short- and long-term solutions for individuals and families experiencing vehicular homelessness and remove barriers such as towing.
The University of California, San Francisco published an interview with Margot Kushel, M.D., a leading expert on homelessness, exploring what the pandemic reveals about housing and health.
The Hill explores why many tenants and housing advocates fear mass evictions in the coming weeks as moratoriums across the country expire. Landlords in most states have still been able to file eviction notices, which means that some tenants may be forced to leave their homes as soon as their state’s eviction order expires.
An article in Vox discusses the urgent need for the United States to properly plan for the threat of hurricanes combined with COVID-19. This year’s hurricane season is predicted to be more active than usual. Given indications that the pandemic will continue well into the hurricane season (which starts on June 1), the country must prepare now. The article calls attention to issues of equity, urging response organizations to support the lowest-income and most marginalized communities that have greater needs and fewer resources.
Next City examines the looming eviction crisis, concerns about New York’s affordable housing projects, and San Antonio’s COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
Zego, a credit card payment processor, reported a 31% increase month-over-month in credit card rent payments from March to April and an additional 20% increase from April to May. A shortage of cash as a result of the pandemic may have forced tenants to rely on credit cards to pay rent two months in a row.
The New York Times discusses how the economic fallout from COVID-19 will be particularly devastating for renters, who are more likely to have lower incomes and work hourly jobs. These jobs have also been most likely to be cut during the pandemic. The U.S. is facing a surge of evictions as eviction moratoriums and federal relief payments expire.
A Health Affairs article outlines steps the government must take to stop the spread of the coronavirus and establish a safe and accessible network of short-term housing options for people experiencing homelessness. The authors discuss the role of overcrowding in driving the pandemic globally.
A piece in the New York Times Magazine examines the pandemic’s devastating impact on Black Americans, particularly on families who were already stretched to the limit.
An op-ed in the Miami Herald examines the devastating impact of the coronavirus on people experiencing homelessness, arguing that criminalizing homelessness violates fundamental human rights, is ineffective, and has dire public health consequences. The authors state that we must provide immediate housing in hotels for people experiencing homelessness in the short-term and use state and federal stimulus funding to close the housing gap.
State and Local News
NLIHC’s list of state and local emergency rental assistance programs is available here.
Alaska’s eviction moratorium will last until June 30 or until the governor ends the state of emergency, but lawyers are concerned about hundreds of renters who will have to pay back their rent or face eviction when the state’s moratorium expires. While Alaska Legal Services Corporation may be able to assist people facing eviction, Public Interest Attorney James Davis worries that without interventions from the government and landlords, evictions will be widespread.
Los Angeles announced the country’s largest COVID-19-related rental assistance program, estimated to help up to 80,000 families. City Council President Nury Martinez proposed $100 million of the $700 million allocated to Los Angeles in the CARES Act be dedicated to the renter’s relief fund. Those who qualify could receive $1,000 per month for up to two months.
The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority discussed short-, medium-, and long-term strategies to move 15,000 people experiencing homelessness into housing. Relying on emergency local, state, and federal investments, the LA Rehousing Recovery Strategy will involve a large-scale effort to acquire and lease properties.
Business Insider explored San Francisco’s temporary sanctioned tent encampments. San Francisco city supervisors, homeless advocates, and service providers have criticized Mayor London Breed’s refusal to acquire more than 8,000 hotel rooms to protect people experiencing homelessness.
As of last week, only 1,011 of 2,768 (or approximately 37%) of vacant hotel rooms in San Francisco acquired through Project Roomkey were occupied, putting the city far behind other California counties. The City of San Francisco disputed these statistics, saying that it has filled at least 47% of the rooms, including “vulnerable populations” as well as people experiencing homelessness in their counts.
The interim director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority told county officials that she hopes to place all individuals in COVID-19-related programs into permanent housing by April 2022. Service providers plan to increase capacity to identify housing units and fill the rooms within seven days of acquiring them.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced that a recently renovated Super 8 motel will serve as temporary housing for families who are homeless and have been impacted by the pandemic. The motel is making available 42 units, a fitness room, laundry facilities, and a shared kitchen and communal spaces.
Governor Gavin Newsom is proposing that state environmental regulations should be waived for cities and counties that want to convert hotels into housing for people experiencing homelessness using federal funding.
The heatwave sweeping across the Bay Area places seniors and people experiencing homelessness at higher risk of illness during the coronavirus pandemic. Advocates are urging the city and county to use vacant hotel rooms to shelter seniors and people experiencing homelessness.
Even with Florida’s eviction moratorium in place, landlords have tried to evict tenants. Eighty eviction cases have been filed and are pending in Orange County alone.
Although a bill to cancel rent and mortgage payments statewide for 180 days failed to advance, Illinois state lawmakers increased relief funding available to tenants and landlords by nearly 90%. Landlords and tenants can apply for a portion of the $396 million fund, which will be administered by the Illinois Housing Development Authority.
The Chicago City Council approved a program to use $3 million from the Affordable Requirements Ordinance to establish a new program called the Emergency Relief for Affordable Multifamily Properties Program (ERAMP). New ERAMP grants will protect Chicago’s network of multifamily housing developments and tenants during and after the pandemic.
Governor Eric Holcomb extended Indiana’s eviction and foreclosure moratorium to June 30, but the Hoosier Housing Coalition is concerned about thousands of Indiana renters who will need rental assistance. According to a NLIHC estimate, 258,782 Indiana renters will need rent assistance from May through September.
An editorial in the Journal Gazette argues that Indiana must take immediate action to protect low-income renters as the state’s eviction moratorium is set to expire on June 30.
The Indianapolis Recorder discusses the coronavirus pandemic among people experiencing homelessness. Despite the Indianapolis Continuum of Care tracking data on health screenings, administered tests, positive tests, and other metrics, the full impact of COVID-19 on people experiencing homelessness is not yet clear.
The Johns Hopkins Go Team, a unit of clinicians formed years ago to respond to natural disasters, has conducted nearly 700 COVID-19 tests at Health Care for the Homeless and four other shelters in Baltimore. Johns Hopkins has provided funding for groups and businesses to acquire personal protective equipment. The institution is also collaborating with the local chapter of the NAACP on public health messaging to spread accurate information about the coronavirus.
Rachel Heller, CEO of Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association, an NLIHC state partner, wrote an op-ed examining the urgent need for emergency rental assistance to help renters and landlords impacted by the pandemic. Heller discusses the need for large-scale federal rent relief and an emergency state budget appropriation of $50 million for Residential Assistance for Families in Transition.
Kalamazoo Mayor David Anderson emphasized the need for additional resources to address the uptick in homelessness as a result of the pandemic. The city is using a motel to provide temporarily housing people experiencing homelessness and has opened day shelters where individuals can receive hot meals. The cost to Kalamazoo averages $60,000 per week, and the city needs significant resources to continue providing these essential services.
Kansas City will fund a third attorney to provide legal aid to low-income renters facing eviction. The Kansas City Council funded two attorneys from Legal Aid of Western Missouri last month. The third attorney is from the Heartland Center for Jobs and Freedom.
St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson announced on May 29 plans for a $64 million COVID-19 relief package that will be funded through federal CARES Act funding. Under the proposed plan, the Department of Human Services would receive $20 million to address housing and homelessness, including more than $5 million for rental and mortgage assistance and more than $2 million for rapid rehousing.
Governor Phil Murphy announced on May 29 that New Jersey will provide $100 million in emergency rental assistance to residents impacted by the pandemic. The program will allocate 20% of funding to provide up to 12 months of rental assistance for those who are very low-income, experiencing homelessness, or at risk of homelessness. For the remainder of the funding, the Department of Community Affairs will administer an online lottery. The program will be funded primarily through the CARES Act.
The New York State Legislature approved on May 28 the “Emergency Rent Relief Act of 2020” (S. 8419), which will use $100 million in federal stimulus funds to provide rental assistance vouchers to landlords. Tenant advocates critiqued the bill, arguing that it would not help New Yorkers experiencing homelessness obtain safe, permanent housing and would not reach millions of tenants who are rent-burdened and at risk of eviction.
New York State lawmakers passed legislation on May 27 codifying the statewide eviction moratorium and extending it until the end of the COVID-19 emergency for anyone who has experienced financial hardship due to the pandemic. The bill would prohibit landlords from evicting tenants who do not pay rent during the pandemic. Landlords could seek a monetary judgment against tenants who owe rent during the pandemic, but they would not be allowed to evict them.
Congressman Brian Higgins (D-NY) announced that the city of Buffalo and the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority will receive nearly $100,000 in new COVID-19 federal funding to provide affordable housing to non-elderly people living with disabilities through the Mainstream Housing Choice Voucher Program.
Approximately 30 protesters displayed body bags outside New York City Hall on May 26 to protest the city’s treatment of people experiencing homelessness. VOCAL-NY, an organization that advocates for low-income New Yorkers, organized the protest. The protesters demanded that the city pay for 30,000 hotel rooms and stop the NYPD and Department of Homeless Services sweeps.
Homeless shelter providers in Charlotte are working to protect residents and educate them about the pandemic.
The City of Toledo announced a $2 million COVID-19 Emergency Renter Assistance Fund that will help renters and landlords impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will help approximately 700 households with up to three months of rental payments.
A letter to the editor in the Columbus Dispatch urged Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) to follow through on his commitment to end the widespread eviction epidemic that was impacting low-income Ohioans prior to the pandemic.
Portland city officials are considering 12- to 18-month agreements with motels to house people experiencing homelessness, but they have expressed concerns about the high cost of the project. If the city uses its current model, the cost of housing people in motels would increase by 500 percent.
According to the Oregonian, support is growing among city officials and housing advocates for Portland to buy motels to use as short-term shelters initially and then as long-term affordable housing.
City officials moved approximately 50 individuals experiencing homelessness from the Philadelphia International Airport on May 26, offering to test any individual who requested transport to a shelter.
In a Rolling Stone interview, San Juan’s Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz spoke about President Trump’s negligent response to the 2017 hurricanes and how it served as a precursor for the coronavirus pandemic.
Nonprofit organizations, healthcare facilities, private companies, and government agencies in Rapid City are collaborating to provide food and housing assistance to people who have tested positive for the coronavirus and are unable to safely quarantine. Oyate Health Center, which serves the Native American community in Pennington County, has rented 22 rooms at the Travelodge hotel to allow safe quarantine for people from congregate living areas and people who live in multi-generational homes.
Houston is now the largest city in the United States to allow evictions to resume. The Texas Supreme Court ordered that evictions and debt collection proceedings could resume on May 19. The number of evictions is expected to skyrocket.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner identified homeless shelters as a major hotspot for the coronavirus in his city. In Austin, Mayor Steve Adler announced that the city plans to vote on acquiring another motel to house people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic.
The Lewis County Board of Commissioners approved $220,000 in funding to shelter people experiencing homelessness, with $100,000 from federal CARES Act funding and $120,000 from COVID-19 relief funds distributed by the state Department of Commerce.
Advocacy groups in Washington are urging Governor Jay Inslee to extend the state’s temporary bans on utility cutoffs and evictions. The state moratorium on utilities expires June 4, and the eviction moratorium expires June 1. Rachael Myers of the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, an NLIHC state partner, expressed concern that without an eviction moratorium and rental assistance, the state will experience significant increases in evictions and homelessness.
The West Virginia Community Action Partnership (WVCAP) received an additional $1,118,403 from the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs to provide housing services for veterans. The funding will help WVCAP address the needs of veterans experiencing homelessness and help them obtain permanent housing.
The Wisconsin Coalition Against Homelessness is urging the state to address the surge of homelessness that is expected to occur when the eviction moratorium is lifted. The coalition offered a three-pronged strategy that includes new programmatic funding, housing, and jobs.
Department of Housing and Urban Development
Department of Treasury
Coronavirus Relief Fund: Frequently Asked Questions - Updated May 28