Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Representative Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) sent a joint letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in which they discuss the urgent need to pass the “Housing Survivors of Major Disasters Act” (S. 1605, H.R. 2914).
During the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs June 9 hearing, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) asked HUD Secretary Ben Carson, “How many people are going to be homeless? How many people are going to lose their homes, and what are you as an administration going to do about it?”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is increasing pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to approve the “Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act,” as included in the HEROES Act, in the next coronavirus relief package.
Department of Housing and Urban Development
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced on June 9 the second allocation of Emergency Solutions Grants - Coronavirus (ESG-CV) funding totaling $2.96 billion.
FEMA announced on June 10 that it has developed guidance to assist state, tribal, and territorial governments in planning mass care delivery.
FEMA’s National Preparedness Directorate is conducting webinars that provide emergency managers an opportunity to discuss how FEMA’s Pandemic Operational Guidance for the 2020 Hurricane Season can assist jurisdictions review and modify their response and recovery plans given the constraints of the ongoing pandemic. The next webinar is Tuesday, June 23 at 11 am-12 pm ET.
Federal Housing Finance Administration
FHFA is extending several loan origination flexibilities currently offered by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These flexibilities are designed to help borrowers during the COVID-19 national emergency.
The Urban Institute released a report examining new data suggesting that COVID-19 and its economic fallout are widening housing disparities by race and income.
On NLIHC’s national call on June 8, Funders Together to End Homelessness CEO Amanda Andere spoke about the work of addressing anti-Blackness and achieving racial equity within our organizations and our movement to end housing poverty and homelessness. Read her full remarks here.
Politico reported on the threat of evictions as the federal moratorium on evictions and supplemental unemployment benefits expire. The article discusses the disproportionate impact this will have on Black Americans. “Unless Congress intervenes soon, the coming tsunami of evictions and homelessness will disproportionately harm black and brown people,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel.
A piece in the Washington Post discusses the pandemic’s impact on a family of four who is living in their car after having to leave their home and running out of money for a motel room.
Forbes reported on the Housing Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development, and Insurance virtual hearing on June 10, discussing how the hearing elevated the need for $100 billion in emergency rental assistance.
CNBC discusses experts’ concerns about a housing ‘apocalypse’ in the coming months. “Now more than ever, housing is health care. Ensuring housing stability for all is both a moral imperative and a public health necessity,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel.
The Wall Street Journal examines the impact of the coronavirus on large, multigenerational homes. The virus has spread more widely in areas with the most crowded households, not necessarily areas with the densest or largest populations.
USA Today highlights advocates’ concerns that the United States will face a surge of evictions and a spike in homelessness if Congress does not intervene. “Even before COVID, we were in the middle of a severe housing crisis. We had eight million of our lowest-income renter households spending at least half of their income on rent. And when you have such limited income to begin with, you’re always one financial emergency away from not being able to pay the rent. COVID is that emergency,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel.
An article in Grow discusses how millions of people are struggling to pay rent due to loss of unemployment as a result of COVID-19. “People are really struggling. Even before the pandemic, we had a shortage of 7 million homes for low-income people,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel.
While overall June rent payments are encouraging, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council’s tracker, Real Page reports deterioration in the ability to afford rent among lower-income households.
Stateline examines how COVID-19 is forcing local governments to make challenging decisions about rental assistance, including how to prioritize funds given the overwhelming and unprecedented need for assistance that far exceeds the supply. The article cites NLIHC’s research note on emergency rental assistance needs.
An article in Vox says that while overall unemployment rates dropped in May, the unemployment rate for Black Americans increased slightly. The article describes how the same structural racism that enables police brutality against Black Americans is also responsible for the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on Black people’s health and economic well-being.
CNN Business discusses the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black and Latino renters and homeowners. The pandemic is exacerbating longstanding racial disparities in health, jobs, and housing.
A BuzzFeed News article discusses the economic catastrophe that will come in August, as the federal eviction and foreclosure moratoriums and the supplemental unemployment insurance benefits expire at the end of July.
The Wall Street Journal discusses a recent report from Coalition for the Homeless, an NLIHC state partner, finding that the coronavirus is disproportionately impacting people experiencing homelessness in New York City. Advocates are calling on New York City and state officials to protect people experiencing homelessness.
The Los Angeles Times examines the pandemic’s impact on farmworkers, many of whom are unable to practice social distancing at job sites and home due to overcrowded situations.
An op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer argues that our country finds resources to house people experiencing homelessness only when they pose a public health threat, but that homelessness itself is a public health crisis and should be addressed with the same urgency.
State and Local News
An NLIHC list of state and local emergency rental assistance programs is available here.
Alaska has established a $10 million mortgage and rental assistance program funded through federal CARES Act and administered by the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation. Alaskans who have been financially impacted by COVID-19 and meet certain eligibility requirements can apply for one month of rental or mortgage assistance.
The Arizona Housing Coalition, an NLIHC state partner, is advocating for additional funding for critical housing resources, including vouchers and a state tax credit program to fund affordable housing development. Arizona was facing an affordable housing crisis before the pandemic, and advocates worry about a rise in evictions and homelessness due to COVID-19.
A nonprofit in El Dorado is increasing outreach efforts to people experiencing homelessness by assembling care packages containing food and personal items that will be distributed twice a week.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a COVID-19-related eviction ban on June 9. The legislation, which passed 10-1, will permanently bar landlords from evicting tenants if they cannot pay rent due to pandemic-related issues. NextCity also reported on San Francisco’s legislation.
California’s Department of Housing and Community Development released Notices of Funding Availability for $61 million in federal CARES Act funding through the Emergency Solutions Grants program and the Community Development Block Grant program.
The number of people experiencing homelessness across Los Angeles County increased 12.7% over the past year to more than 66,400, and advocates are concerned that the figure will rise again due to COVID-19.
The Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles filed a federal lawsuit against the city on June 11, arguing that the city’s efforts to prevent evictions for tenants who cannot pay rent due to the pandemic violate landlords’ Fifth Amendment right against government seizing their property without compensation.
The Alameda County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved spending $23.3 million in state and federal COVID-19 funding to purchase Oakland’s former Lake Merritt Lodge to transform it into a shelter for medically vulnerable people experiencing homelessness. Local advocates are devising strategies for turning COVID-19 emergency measures into programs that help people experiencing homelessness beyond the pandemic.
LAist discusses advocates’ concerns about what will happen to the 9,400 people who are temporarily residing in hotel rooms after the Project Roomkey hotel contracts expire.
Nevada County’s housing resource manager said that the county has placed more than 60 people experiencing homelessness in local motels since March 18, using funds from pre-existing programs and California’s Project Roomkey initiative.
Hundreds of people experiencing homelessness in San Francisco received COVID-19 testing last weekend as part of the University of California, San Francisco’s widespread testing effort.
A new report released by the UCLA Luskin Center warns that evictions and homelessness will rise precipitously once COVID-19 protections are lifted. The study estimates that at least 365,000 households in Los Angeles are unlikely to be able to pay rent due to loss of income and lack of access to income assistance like unemployment insurance.
Housing and homelessness advocates in Connecticut are working to find permanent housing for people experiencing homelessness as the temporary housing acquired due to the pandemic is set to expire at the end of June. The goal is to find permanent housing for 1,000 people in the next 120 days.
Recipients of Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits in Florida will continue to receive the COVID-19 maximum monthly allotment supplement for the month of June, according to the Department of Children and Families.
Hawaii’s rate of homelessness was among the highest in the country before the pandemic, and researchers project increases in homelessness due to loss of employment and wages and the inability to afford rent.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot proposed a plan that would prohibit landlords from evicting tenants who have been impacted by COVID-19 without first trying to negotiate with them. The City Council’s Housing Committee will likely approve the plan on June 15, followed by a full Council vote on June 17.
Chicago proposed spending nearly $40 million in federal CARES Act funding on homelessness services, including prevention strategies and emergency rental assistance. The city earmarked $15.7 million for 1,250 ‘shield housing’ units to protect older or medically vulnerable people experiencing homelessness. Advocates argue that additional rental units, at least 500 more than the city’s proposal, are needed to protect Chicagoans experiencing homelessness. The Chicago Homelessness and Health Response Group for Equity released a report on developing effective cross-sector partnerships to address the pandemic among people experiencing homelessness and housing instability.
The Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition released a statement that state and federal policymakers are not taking adequate steps to protect renters impacted by COVID-19. The coalition continues to urge Governor Holcomb to enact a comprehensive plan to prevent a surge of evictions and a rise in homelessness.
The director of the Acadiana Regional Coalition for Homelessness and Housing is concerned about a rise in homelessness as Louisiana's eviction moratorium and the federal moratorium expires in the coming months.
Baltimore County started accepting applications for its COVID-19 Eviction Prevention Program on June 9. The county has partnered with the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition’s Fair Housing Action Center to provide residents with additional rental needs, including financial coaching and counseling, referrals to legal services, and renters’ tax credit applications and assistance.
Baltimore City’s outgoing mayoral administration outlined a plan on June 9 to serve people experiencing homelessness and address the added challenges brought on by COVID-19.
A survey found that 29% of Massachusetts’ renters have missed a payment during the pandemic, with younger and non-white renters most likely to have fallen behind on rent.
The Detroit City Council will vote on June 8 to approve a plan to direct millions in coronavirus relief funding toward rental assistance, eviction prevention, and homeless programs. Under the plan, Detroit would receive $10.5 million in Emergency Solutions Grants to respond to the coronavirus among people experiencing homelessness. The city would also receive $20.8 million in Community Development Block Grant funds for housing counseling, tax-filing assistance, rental assistance, and tenant legal aid.
Michigan courts are bracing for as many as 75,000 landlord/tenant filings since the state’s eviction moratorium expired on June 11.
A piece in the Detroit Free Press examines life inside the city’s “homeless coronavirus isolation centers.”
The director of advocacy for Legal Services of Eastern Missouri wrote an op-ed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch discussing the importance of helping tenants – and the individuals and agencies who work with them – understand the tenant protections included in the CARES Act.
Governor Chris Sununu authorized expenditure of $35 million from the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund to provide rental assistance. Of the $35 million, $20 million will be spent initially, with $15 million held in reserve, for rent stabilization and housing support. Governor Sununu also announced an additional $15 million in CARES Act funding for homeless shelters.
A coalition of low-income legal service providers sent a letter to the Chief Administrative Judge of the Court State of New York urging the state court system to halt the reopening of the courts to stop the spread of the coronavirus and prevent mass evictions. Read the letter here.
The Ithaca Common Council narrowly passed a resolution that would allow the mayor to forgive all outstanding rental debt accrued by tenants and small businesses over the last three months. The resolution, which appears to be the first of its kind in the United States, must be approved by the New York State Department of Health (DOH).
A homeless services organization in Jackson County is working to prevent a surge in homelessness by recruiting landlords and prioritizing rehousing efforts.
The Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio is inviting companies, organizations, and public officials to sign a letter urging Governor Mike DeWine to dedicate at least $100 million from Ohio’s federal Coronavirus Relief Fund to emergency rental assistance.
The Dayton City Commission passed legislation providing tenants with extra protections against being evicted because they are unable to pay rent during the pandemic. The legislation requires landlords to provide a receipt for rent paid with cash or money orders and to set a cap on late fees.
Housing advocates in Ohio are concerned about a surge in COVID-19-related evictions and homelessness. They are urging Congress to provide emergency rental assistance. According to the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, an NLIHC state partner, most of the 1.3 million Ohioans who have filed for unemployment since the pandemic began are renters, many of whom are severely cost-burdened.
The Oregon Legislature approved $75 million of federal Coronavirus Relief Funds for rental assistance. The Housing and Community Services Department will use $55 million to provide rental assistance for tenants at or below 80% of area median income, and $20 million to provide operating support to owners of affordable rental housing projects who have long-term affordability contracts with HCSD.
Oregon Public Broadcasting aired an interview with Andrea Bell, the director of housing stabilization with Oregon Housing and Community Services, and Tim Orr, education and support hotline manager for Community Alliance of Tenants. They discuss how $55 million in federal funds recently allocated for rental assistance will be distributed.
The Philadelphia City Council’s Committee on Housing, Neighborhood Development, and the Homeless approved five of the six bills included in the Emergency Housing Protection Act (EHPA). The EHPA will be up for a full vote in City Council by June 18.
The City of Knoxville announced the launch of the COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program, which will provide rental and mortgage assistance to residents impacted by the pandemic. The city received $1.55 million in federal coronavirus relief funding, including Community Development Block Grant (CDBG-CV) and Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG-CV). A portion of these funds will be used for the emergency housing assistance program, and some will be used for emergency homeless shelter services and mobile meals.
The Austin City Council unanimously approved $24 million in rental assistance. City leaders had previously allocated $1.2 million for emergency rental assistance.
The San Antonio City Council approved a $191 million COVID-19 recovery plan that will allocate $50.5 million to increase housing security, including rental assistance, fair housing counseling, homeless shelters, domestic violence prevention, and other strategies. Funding will be provided by $96.3 million in federal funding, primarily through the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) and $94.6 million from the city’s general fund.
Housing advocates in Utah are warning of a spike in evictions as the federal eviction moratorium and additional CARES Act benefits expire in July. The state’s $4 million rental assistance program has received nearly 1,093 requests for aid. The Utah Housing Coalition, an NLIHC state partner, and other advocates are urging Congress to include $100 billion in rental assistance in the next relief package.
The Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness reported that 1,110 Vermonters experienced homelessness on a one-day count on January 22, 2020. As of May 31, 1,489 people were residing in state-funded General Assistance motels.
Vermont’s Office of Economic Opportunity is working with local organizations to find permanent, affordable housing for people currently residing in hotels. While Vermont may have to rely on shelters as reopening begins and the hotel voucher system expires, the goal is to find permanent housing for those experiencing homelessness. Governor Phil Scott’s proposed COVID-19 recovery package, which needs to be approved by the Legislature, includes $42 million in rental arrearage assistance and $8 million for the state’s rehousing recovery fund.
Department of Housing and Urban Development
COVID-19 Homeless System Response: Five Things to Consider When Investing ESG in Homelessness Prevention
CARES Act Emergency Solutions Grants Round 2 Funding - June 9
Methodology for Round 2 Allocations of ESG CARES Act Funds - June 9
HOME CARES Act Eviction Moratorium - Sample Letter to Owners and Sample Tenant Flyer - June 10
Planning a Housing Surge to Accelerate Rehousing Efforts in Response to COVID-19
Rehousing Activation and Racial Equity Part 1: Equity as the Foundation
Mass Care/Emergency Assistance Pandemic Planning Considerations Guide - June 10
National Health Care for the Homeless Council
Upcoming Webinar - Testing for COVID-19 in Homeless Shelters and Encampments: Discussing CDC’s New Health Department Guidance & NHCHC’s Newest Issue Brief - June 19 at 1 pm ET