days hours minutes seconds until tens of millions of renters could lose their homes when the federal eviction moratorium ends. Learn more.

Additional Coronavirus Updates - Monday, May 18, 2020

NLIHC maintains a COVID-19/Housing and Homelessness News and Resource page with policy recommendations, factsheets, frequently asked questions, research notes, and additional resources.

National Updates  

Congress

The House voted to approve the “HEROES Act” on May 15. The HEROES Act provides $200 billion in housing and homelessness resources, including NLIHC’s top priorities to ensure housing stability during and after the pandemic for America’s lowest-income people and those experiencing homelessness. For details on the HEROES Act, see NLIHC’s analysis.

Representatives David Price (D-NC) and Nita Lowey (D-NY) discussed in an op-ed how the coronavirus crisis is exacerbating America’s preexisting housing crisis. The piece urges Congress to provide significant housing resources, including additional rental assistance, funding for public housing, assistance for people experiencing homelessness, and funds for Native American tribes.

Department of Housing and Urban Development

The Federal Housing Administration announced on May 14 an extension of its foreclosure and eviction moratorium through June 30, 2020 for homeowners with FHA-insured single family mortgages. The FHA also announced an extension of work flexibilities for lenders and appraisers.

Department of Veterans Affairs

The Veterans Employment Rideshare Initiative (Rideshare), launched in 2018, helps veterans experiencing homelessness get to job interviews, attend medical appointments, and search for housing. The Rideshare program has been adapted to help veterans experiencing homelessness during COVID-19 by providing transportation to hotel shelters and delivering food.

Federal Housing Finance Administration

FHFA announced on May 14 that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are extending their moratorium on foreclosures and evictions until at least June 30, 2020. The foreclosure moratorium applies to single-family, Enterprise-backed mortgages only.

FHFA announced on May 13 that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are offering payment deferral as a new repayment option for homeowners in COVID-19 forbearance plans.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), FHFA, and HUD launched on May 12 a joint mortgage and housing assistance website for Americans impacted by COVID-19. The website consolidates CARES Act mortgage relief, renters’ protections, and resources for additional help.

Reporting

NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel and Utah Housing Coalition Executive Director Tara Rollins penned an op-ed in the Deseret News urging Congress to take bold action to protect renters by including emergency rental assistance in the next coronavirus relief package.

An article in Mother Jones examines whether COVID-19 will compel San Francisco to confront the issue of homelessness. Asked if the coronavirus could at last force a reckoning with homelessness, NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel responded, “If this moment doesn’t, I’m not sure what would.”

Shelterforce examines the need for emergency rental assistance, citing NLIHC Vice President of Public Policy Sarah Saadian and including data from NLIHC’s research note. The article also provides an overview of the “Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act.”

A New York Times opinion piece explores the notion that our housing crisis is a symptom of our country’s wealth and indifference. As the article states, Congress could choose to make homelessness rare, brief, and nonrecurring, and our country has the resources to address a major root cause of homelessness: the shortage of affordable housing.

Community Solutions explores a recent analysis conducted by Dr. Brendan O’Flaherty, an economics professor at Columbia University, which projects an increase in homelessness by 40-45% this year over January 2019. The analysis predicts the devastating impact that the pandemic will have on rates of homelessness. CNN also discussed the analysis.

In a New York Times op-ed, Carol Galante, faculty director of the Terner Center for Housing Innovation, discusses how restrictive zoning blocks less-affluent families from opportunities offered by cities such as Seattle, San Francisco, Boston, and New York.

Roll Call explores housing provisions in the House Democrats’ proposal for the next coronavirus economic relief, including nearly $200 billion in affordable housing and rental assistance funding.

An article in the Washington Post unpacks why the $100 billion for rental assistance that House Democrats included in their $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill might not be enough to address the country’s rental crisis.

A piece in the New Yorker examines how inaction by local and federal officials could result in a surge of evictions and foreclosures, triggering a new wave of infection and illness. The inadequate federal response does not mean that the federal government is unable to take action.

Bloomberg Businessweek published a piece examining how both renters and property owners will suffer without a national rental market bailout. Across the country, landlords and tenants are struggling to cover next month’s rent, and an approaching wave of evictions threatens them both.

A Kaiser Health News analysis found that inadequate housing in the United States puts people at risk during the pandemic. Public health experts are concerned that people living in substandard housing will continue to suffer as the coronavirus and its accompanying economic crisis continue.

Nan Roman, president and CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, discusses the need for Congress to include critical housing and homelessness resources in the next coronavirus relief package in an op-ed in The Hill. She urges Congress to include $11.5 billion for homeless assistance, $100 billion in emergency rental assistance, long-term rental vouchers for elderly and severely disabled people experiencing homelessness, and significant investments in the national Housing Trust Fund.

Doctors Without Borders dispatched a team of doctors, nurses, logisticians, and water and sanitation experts to the Navajo Nation to help with the coronavirus crisis that is unfolding on the reservation. The high rates of infection and the fact that these communities suffer from chronic federal underfunding drove the decision to send a team to the Navajo Nation.

The Hill released a list of eight key provisions expected in the Democrats’ next coronavirus relief package, including emergency rent and mortgage assistance.

The Washington Post published an FAQ on rent strikes during the pandemic.

The Columbus Dispatch editorial board published a piece urging Congress to include emergency rental assistance in the next coronavirus relief package. Since eviction moratoriums are a short-term fix and rent deferment is not rent forgiveness, rental assistance is needed to keep tenants stably housed.

The Washington Post examines how job losses due to COVID-19 have fallen unequally on Americans according to age, race, gender, and educational attainment. Undocumented immigrants face significant challenges, including tremendous job loss and lack of access to the federal safety net, especially housing and food assistance.

HuffPost reports that the Navajo Nation now has more known COVID-19 cases per capita than any state. At least 3,122 cases have been reported on Navajo Nation, which is the most populous American Indian reservation in the United States. Indigenous populations are particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus given their high rates of underlying conditions, poor housing conditions, and other significant risk factors.

CityLab examines why data released by the National Multifamily Housing Council does not provide the full story about housing stability in the United States. While the data revealed that four out of five renters were able to pay their May rent, thee data excludes tens of millions of renters who live in subsidized rentals or single-family homes.

State and Local News

A list of local eviction and foreclosure moratoriums from NLIHC is available here.

A list of state and local emergency rental assistance programs from NLIHC is available here.

A list of local shelter closings is from NLIHC available here.

Alabama

Some Mobile County residents, including Elizabeth Chiepalich, who runs the Facebook group “Homeless in Mobile,” continue to distribute nutritious food, tents, mats, and other necessities to help people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic.

Alaska

An Alaska legislative committee approved Governor Mike Dunleavy’s plan to spend federal coronavirus relief aid, which includes $10 million for rental and mortgage assistance to be administered by the Alaska Housing Finance corporation.

In Anchorage, officers with the Community Action Planning Team and Parks and Recreation workers removed a homelessness encampment on May 11.

Arkansas

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Mobile Testing Unit has partnered with local advocates to expand coronavirus testing for people experiencing homelessness. UAMS held an event on May 11 in Hot Springs that included testing and distribution of tents, blanks, and sanitary supplies.

California

Governor Gavin Newsom released his revised budget proposal on May 14. While the new budget eliminates the ambitious $750 million state fund for housing and homeless services, Governor Newsom intends to use $750 million in federal funds to purchase hotels and motels across the state.

The California Rental Housing Association is urging cities and counties to dedicate millions of dollars in federal grants to rental assistance. The association, composed of more than 20,000 rental housing owners, has proposed a statewide rental assistance program, which could provide up to three months of assistance to renters experiencing financial loss due to COVID-19.

Approximately 100 San Dimas residents and city officials protested a plan to provide temporary shelter for people experiencing homelessness at a Motel 6. The CEO of the company that owns the hotel announced at the protest that it would pull out of the statewide effort called Project Roomkey. San Dimas Mayor Emmett Badar supported the protest, saying that the city is concerned that the hotel program would bring more people experiencing homelessness to the area.

A hotel in downtown Los Angeles has been converted into a 460-room temporary homeless shelter for 90 days. The Salvation Army will provide mental health and substance abuse services at the hotel.

Marin County legislators have expressed frustration that the Newsom administration has not moved quickly enough to share federal coronavirus relief funds with smaller counties and cities. The CARES Act allocated $9.8 billion directly to California, and jurisdictions with more than 500,000 residents received approximately $5.8 billion. Jurisdictions like Marin County, with smaller populations, are still waiting on California to allocate a portion of its federal funds.

An article in the Los Angeles Times examines the logistical challenges of testing people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles County.

Orange County has witnessed a significant increase in deaths of people experiencing homelessness, with deaths in April reaching their highest level in at least five years. Health officials state that they are unsure how many people experiencing homelessness have been tested for coronavirus.

Nearly two months after San Jose received more than 100 trailers from the state to provide housing for people experiencing homelessness, the city is expected to use some of the trailers. The San Jose City Council unanimously approved the allocation of nearly $730,000 to operate 90 trailers.

Colorado

Colorado community health centers are going mobile and expanding telehealth services to support people experiencing homelessness. Peak Vista Community Health Centers established a new specialty clinic in Colorado Springs, making it easier to provide medical and behavioral care services to people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic.

The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless (CCH), an NLIHC state partner, has provided most of the coronavirus testing for people experiencing homelessness in Denver. The coalition screened 52 men and women experiencing homelessness. Of the 45 who showed no symptoms, 12, or 26%, tested positive for the virus. Two of the seven people who showed symptoms tested positive. CCH used the results of its pilot study to ask the state for additional resources.

Florida

Purpose Built Families Foundation’s Operation Sacred Trust is providing rapid assistance to very low-income veterans facing housing crises as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Using CARES Act money to expand services, the Broward County nonprofit identifies priority neighborhoods each week to deliver services to veterans at risk of homelessness.

Hawaii

An editorial in the Star Advertiser discusses why the state needs to focus on solutions that address long-standing affordable housing issues rather than attending only short-term relief solutions. James Koshiba, co-founder of Hui Aloha, an advocacy group working to end homelessness, argues that Hawaii should broaden its focus from emergency relief to prevention and permanent solutions.

Idaho

Boise State Public Radio aired an interview about local nonprofit organizations’ efforts to support people facing housing instability and those experiencing homelessness.

Illinois

A Chicago hotel has been converted into temporary shelter for people experiencing homelessness and currently houses 163 people. The medical director of mobile health for Lawndale Christian Health Center said that the biggest challenge is finding permanent housing for the guests.

Edgewater’s Broadway Armory has been converted into a temporary shelter as city officials work to alleviate crowding at existing shelters. The facility is one of five emergency shelters that have opened in Chicago to protect people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic.

Indiana

A spokeswoman for the City of Indianapolis told the Indianapolis Star that the city is in the process of establishing a contract with a local hotel to house people experiencing homelessness who are older or have underlying medical conditions.

Prosperity Indiana, an NLIHC state partner, is providing resources, including legal guidance and webinars, for tenants to help low-income renters during the pandemic. “Housing security has been something that’s been on our minds since before the pandemic began, and it’s taken on new urgency and a new light in the face of that pandemic,” said Andrew Bradley, policy director for Prosperity Indiana.

Kansas

A coalition of social service organizations in Lawrence are leading efforts to house people experiencing homelessness amid the coronavirus pandemic. These organizations, however, do not have the resources to shelter everyone who is experiencing homelessness.

Maine

A commentary in the Portland Press Herald discusses Maine’s shortage of affordable housing and permanent supportive housing units. The Maine Statewide Homeless Council and the Maine Continuum of Care sent a letter to Governor Janet Mills suggesting that a portion of the state’s Coronavirus Relief Fund be used to create permanent supportive housing.

Maryland

Baltimore May Bernard “Jack” Young will use $13 million in federal coronavirus relief funding to establish a rental assistance program. Housing Commissioner Michael Braverman stated this the agency is still determining how the money will be distributed.

The Baltimore City Council approved legislation on May 11 that would prohibit landlords from increasing rent during the current state of emergency and for three months after it is lifted. The “Baltimore City COVID-19 Renter Relief Act” would also ban landlords from charging late fees during this period.

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced allocation of $800,000 in county funds for emergency rental assistance and eviction relief. Of the total amount, $300,000 will come from the Disaster Relief and Recovery Initiative in the proposed operating budget, and the other $500,000 will come from Moderate Income Housing Unit fee-in-lieu revenue sources. The rental relief program is extended to families earning up to $92,000, the county’s median income.

Landlords and housing advocates debated legislation to prohibit rent increases and late fees in Baltimore during the coronavirus pandemic. The Land Use and Transportation Committee voted unanimously on May 7 to advance the “Baltimore COVID-19 Renter Relief Act” (Bill 20-0526).

Massachusetts

Over 900 beds across Boston have been added to reduce density in the city’s homeless shelters and to treat people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic. Boston Hope is a temporary shelter opened at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center that has 500 bed dedicated to people experiencing homelessness. Boston has also built quarantine and treatment centers next to its largest shelters.

WBUR released a segment on Boston Hope, a respite shelter for people experiencing homelessness who have tested positive for the coronavirus. Approximately 300 people experiencing homelessness have stayed at the shelter since it opened almost a month ago.  

Michigan

Eric Hufnagel, executive director of the Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness, an NLIHC state partner, told the Detroit Free Press that the shelter system across Michigan was at or near capacity before the pandemic. The influx of people needing shelter due to the coronavirus pandemic is forcing providers to be innovative in accommodating more people while also maintaining social distancing guidelines.

SOS Community Services, an organization focused on ending family homelessness in Washtenaw County, is providing pre-bagged groceries and has installed portable toilets outside its two locations in Ypsilanti. The organization continues to help families experiencing homelessness obtain housing during the pandemic. 

Governor Gretchen Whitmer asked Vice President Mike Pence to discourage protests due to concerns of the coronavirus spreading to rural parts of Michigan.

New Jersey

Newark created a $1 million Emergency Housing Assistance Fund to provide low-income residents up to $1,000 each to help pay rent or utilities. The program will be funded through federal HOME grants and potentially some funds from the city’s housing trust fund. Applications will be available on the city’s website beginning May 18.

In the New Jersey Legislature, Bill A. 3956 would create the New Jersey Emergency Rental Assistance Program to help tenants remain stably housed. The emergency assistance program would first tap unused federal funds (specifically, Community Development Block Grant) sent to the state to support Hurricane Sandy Recovery. The State Assembly will vote on the bill on May 14.

New York

ABC News reported that more than 325,000 of New York City’s lowest-income households, nearly 1 million people, are at risk of severe income loss and being unable to pay rent. Christine Quinn, president and CEO of the nonprofit Win, implored that without interventions such as housing vouchers and additional hotel rooms, millions of people will become homeless after the eviction moratorium is lifted.

New York City’s largest provider of shelter and services for mothers experiencing homelessness and their children, Win, released a housing stability and recovery plan: The Aftermath Plan: Responding to Homelessness in the Wake of COVID-19. The plan consists of five policy priorities to prevent housing instability for the most vulnerable families.

Advocates are criticizing the de Blasio administration’s decision to transport people experiencing homelessness who were staying on the subway trains to congregate shelters. The Department of Homeless Services chose to move people experiencing homelessness to one of the city’s most crowded shelters. Giselle Routhier, policy director for the Coalition for the Homeless, an NLIHC state partner, said that her organization is urging Mayor de Blasio to move these individuals to vacant hotel rooms across the city.

New York housing advocates are concerned that the state’s share of HUD relief funds falls short of its share of national coronavirus cases, 7% of relief funds compared to 25% of the nation’s COVID-19 cases. Rachel Fee, executive director of the New York Housing Conference, an NLIHC state partner, noted that Florida received nearly the same amount of block grant funding while having just 12% of coronavirus cases.

The Washington Post published an article discussing New York City’s COVID-19 Hotel Program, which provides free hotel rooms to eligible New Yorkers with mild COVID-19 cases. It mentions that the hotel program includes protections and accommodations for people experiencing homelessness.

Oklahoma

Social service agencies in Oklahoma City are concerned about a flood of evictions that will come when Oklahoma County’s district court reopens on May 18. Nearly 400 eviction cases have been filed in Oklahoma County according to a report from the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Given the limited resources housing providers had before the pandemic, they are concerned about their ability to house more individuals who have been impacted by COVID-19.

Oregon

Clastop County officials developed a plan to provide temporary housing people experiencing homelessness in a local hotel after Providence Seaside Hospital reached out to the county’s public health department. County officials are partnering with the hospital and other organizations to arrange rooms for people experiencing who test positive for the coronavirus or are awaiting test results.

The Oregon Legislature’s Emergency Board approved $12 million in housing assistance, with more than of half going to residents at imminent of homelessness. The state allocated $8.5 million to provide rental assistance for people who have lost income due to the pandemic. Oregon also set aside $3.5 million for shelters and motel vouchers.

The Housing Authority of Jackson County will receive $375,002 in federal coronavirus aid to help keep residents stably housed. The funds are a portion of $5.7 million in grants allocated to housing authorities across Oregon.

Pennsylvania

Philadelphia established a COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which aims to provide rental assistance to 3,000 families in the city. The program will be funded by $10 million in federal relief funding.

Rhode Island

Housing advocates in Rhode Island urged state legislators to include affordable housing in their recovery plans. Advocates also urged Governor Gina Raimondo to protect a dedicated revenue stream to produce affordable housing that she pledged to include in her budget earlier this year.

Texas

The Texas Supreme Court ordered that eviction proceedings can resume on May 26. This does not apply to tenants protected under the federal CARES Act, including renters in homes covered by federally backed mortgages. Christina Rosales of Texas Housers, an NLIHC state partner, expressed concern about low-income Texans and the rise in homelessness that may occur as a result of the coronavirus.

Texas Housers, NLIHC state partners and DHRC partners, drafted a white paper urging local officials to prioritize keeping Texans stably housed by adopting policies and practices that provide resources for low-income renters. Learn more here.

Fort Worth allocated $15.4 million in CARES Act funds to housing-related activities, including funds from the Community Services Block Grant, the Coronavirus Relief Fund, the Community Development Block Grant, the Emergency Solutions Grant, and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS. The Fort Worth Neighborhood Services Department began accepting applications for several programs designed to help residents with housing and other household expenses, including emergency rental assistance.

The San Antonio Housing Authority (SAHA) announced that it will contribute $350,000 to the city’s COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Program. SAHA also announced a 25% rent forgiveness program for the month of June.

Utah

The Utah Housing and Community Development Division launched a new Rental Assistance Program on May 11, with more than $4 million available through several programs, including existing federal HOME funds and CARES Act funding. The program is designed to help those whose income has been impacted by the pandemic but who are not eligible for unemployment benefits.

Housing advocates, faith leaders, and civic groups are urging Utah Governor Gary Herbert to extend the COVID-19-related rent deferral and eviction moratorium for two more months.

Vermont

Burlington is looking to establish a low-barrier site for people experiencing homelessness this summer as temporary sites established during the pandemic begin to close. The North Beach Campground site will close this week, and Vermont shut down a Holiday Inn site last week.

In an op-ed in the Vermont Digger, Vermont Representatives Tom Stevens and John Killacky outlined policy solutions to establish an integrated housing system in the state. They argue that pandemic demonstrated that Vermont can provide housing for people experiencing homelessness, now there is a need to build upon that recent success.

Virginia

The Thomas Jefferson Area Coalition for the Homeless is providing shelter for approximately 87 people experiencing homelessness. The organization noted that while homelessness has long been an issue in the community, the pandemic calls attention to the fact that homelessness is a community health issue.

Washington

Bremerton Mayor Greg Wheeler announced that additional federal funds have been made available for the Bremerton COVID-19 Rental Assistance Program. An additional $268,383 from the CARES Act was allocated to the city, and the council approved spending the funds on a rental assistance program.

Wyoming

In a letter to the editor of the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, a resident of Cheyenne asked her community to contact their members of Congress and urge them to include $100 billion in emergency rental assistance and eviction prevention.

Guidance

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Interim Guidance for Responding to Coronavirus Disease 2019 among People Experiencing Unsheltered Homelessness - Updated May 10

Department of Housing and Urban Development

COVID-19 Landlord Engagement: Reset your Community’s Critical Partnerships During COVID Response - May 15

COVID-19 Homeless Systems Response: Landlord Engagement

HUD Community and Planning Development Methodology for Round 2 Allocations of CDBG-CV CARES Act Funds - May 12

HUD SNAPS - Upcoming Webinars:

The Office of Block Grant Assistance (OBGA) Disaster Recovery and Special Issues Division (DRSI) is hosting a webinar series for Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) and Community Development Block Grant-Mitigation (CDBG-MIT) grantees.

Homeless System Response: Changes to Coordinated Entry Prioritization to Support and Respond to COVID-19 - May 7

HUD’s Community Planning and Development announced allocations of the second tranche of $1 billion CDBG-CV to states:

HUD’s Multifamily Tenant COVID-19 Brochure has been translated into several languages, including Spanish, Chinese, Farsi, Arabic, Vietnamese, and Russian. Note: as of now, the translated versions are not available on HUD’s Multifamily website.

HUD’s PIH Tenant Flyer on the Eviction Moratorium has been translated into 20 languages.

Department of Treasury

Payments to States and Eligible Units of Local Government - May 11

FEMA

Federal Programs that Support Individuals Experiencing Homelessness

Federal Housing Finance Agency

Fannie Mae Lender Letter (LL-2020-07): COVID-19 Payment Deferral - May 14

Freddie Mac Bulletin 2020-10: Temporary Servicing Guidance Related to COVID-19 - May 14

National Alliance to End Homelessness

COVID-19 Online Learning Series

National Alliance of HUD Tenants

HUD Tenants’ Rights Under COVID-19 Webinar - Tuesday, May 12 at 2:00pm ET

National Health Care for the Homeless Council

COVID-19 & the HCH Community: Medical Respite Care & Alternate Care Sites - May 6

United States Interagency Council on Homelessness

Operating Isolation and Quarantine Facilities and Providing Medical, Behavioral Health, and Substance Use Treatment: Lessons Learned from King County - Upcoming Webinar, May 12 at 2 pm ET.