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Additional Coronavirus Updates - October 19, 2020

 National Updates   

Advocacy

Twenty-four medical and public health groups and experts submitted an amici curiae brief in Brown v. Azar in support of the CDC eviction moratorium.

Reporting

The Washington Post reports on the Trump administration’s new guidance on the CDC eviction moratorium. The guidance weakens the order’s protections, leaving millions of renters facing a renewed threat of eviction. “To understand, ask yourself the question: Why would a landlord want to start eviction proceedings in October for an eviction that can’t happen until January? The answer: to pressure, scare, and intimidate renters into leaving sooner,” says NLIHC’s Diane Yentel.

Common Dreams discusses warning from housing advocates that the Trump administration’s new guidance on the CDC eviction moratorium will harm renters and public health. NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel raises concerns that the guidance provides opportunities for landlords to intimidate renters into vacating their homes sooner.

Many small landlords are struggling to maintain payments on their properties, raising concerns that residential landlords will have their properties foreclosed on, and the holdings will be bought by big corporations. Comprehensive rental assistance is needed to support landlords and tenants and protect the affordable housing supply.

In These Times reports on the Trump administration’s new guidance on the federal eviction moratorium, which provides landlords more power to evict tenants. The weakening of the order’s protections followed a flurry of lawsuits from landlords and real estate trade groups.

Commercial Appeal reports U.S. District Court Judge Mark Norris has scheduled a hearing on the federal lawsuit filed by seven Memphis landlords challenging the CDC eviction moratorium. Judge Norris will hear the case on October 30. Neighborhood Preservation Inc, a Memphis nonprofit agency, asked Judge Norris for permission to intervene on the side of the U.S. government.

The New York Times reports eight million people have slipped into poverty since May, with the crisis disproportionately impacting Black and Latino communities. Two new studies demonstrate the effectiveness of the CARES Act and document the rise in poverty that has occurred as the expanded federal aid dwindled.

Politico reports that without federal intervention, an estimated 13.4 million people will lose their unemployment benefits on December 31, 2020. The CDC national eviction moratorium is also set to expire on December 31.

State and Local News

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

Arkansas

Arkansas’ Department of Human Services announced the state has received $23 million in Emergency Solutions Grants – Coronavirus (ESG-CV) to provide homelessness prevention, rapid rehousing, street outreach, and emergency shelter.

California

Two new studies demonstrate deepening housing insecurity in the Bay Area, with the financial hardship disproportionately impacting communities of color. A study from Healing Grove Health Center, a San Jose-based nonprofit, estimates nearly 15,000 households in Santa Clara County are at imminent risk of homelessness when eviction protections expire in February.

Residents at several Orange County motels received sudden notice that the Project Roomkey program would be closing October 16 or 23, depending on the site. County officials cite funding concerns as the primary reason for the abrupt end to the program. FEMA funding has been renewed on a monthly basis, with no guarantee that the agency will continue reimbursing Orange County for the costs. The county has been using Coronavirus Relief Fund money to cover the remaining 25% cost-share, but this money must be spent by December 30.

Governor Gavin Newsom announced Salinas would receive $9.2 million in Project Homekey funds to put toward the acquisition of the Good Nite Inn. The Salinas City Council voted unanimously to purchase the existing motel and convert guest rooms into apartments while also providing services, like job training and substance abuse counseling.

Mercury News interviewed Dr. Margot Kushel, director of the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations, about how the coronavirus has changed the Bay Area’s homelessness crisis.

Connecticut

NBC Connecticut reports on state efforts to find permanent housing for 1,000 individuals before state contracts with FEMA-reimbursable hotels expire. From June 1 to September 30, Connecticut connected 1,099 people with housing.

Florida

NLIHC’s Diane Yentel spoke with Spectrum News 13 about the Trump administration’s new guidance on the federal moratorium, explaining how the amended guidelines are harmful to renters. “We can’t, as a country, contain the virus unless we are preventing evictions from occurring,” said Diane Yentel.

The Orlando Sentinel reports Central Florida homeless shelters are seeing the first wave of individuals experiencing homelessness for the first time as a result of the COVID-19 recession. Many of the newly homeless are single mothers or parents of young children. According to the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida, people who report being homeless for the first time now comprise over 40% of those seeking assistance.

Hawaii

A survey from the University of Hawai’i Department of Urban and Regional Planning found there are currently 18,000 households delinquent on their rent, and that number does not include people who are current on their but have exhausted their savings. On October 2, the Kuau’i County Housing Agency announced the availability of rent and mortgage assistance, which is funded through the CARES Act.

Indiana

Indiana’s Rental Assistance Portal has re-opened and is accepting applications for the first time since closing in August. The program is now being funded through Emergency Solutions Grants – Coronavirus (ESG-CV). General information about the ESG-CV rental assistance program can be found here.

Kansas

KC Tenants organized a protest on October 15, calling on Jackson County Circuit Court Presiding Judge David Byrn to halt eviction hearings. About 100 tenants blockaded the county courthouse and shut down virtual eviction proceedings with online disruptions on October 15. KC Tenants and the ACLU filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Jackson County Circuit Court’s procedure for eviction cases, arguing it violates the CDC eviction moratorium.

Maryland

Maryland officials on October 8 announced $11.7 million to provide legal services to families in need. The funds will be directed to the Maryland Legal Services Corporation (MLSC), which provides grants to nonprofit organizations providing civil legal services for low-income residents.

Massachusetts

One week before Massachusetts’ eviction moratorium is set to expire, the Baker administration announced a $171 million Eviction Diversion Initiative. The initiative adds $100 million to the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition renter and landlord relief program, nearly $50 million for rapid rehousing programs, and $12.3 million for legal aid and community mediation, among other resources.

WBUR reports housing organizations, tenant advocates, and landlords are urging the Baker administration to allocate more federal dollars for rental assistance. The state’s housing courts are working to add resources to manage an anticipated flood of eviction filings when the moratorium expired on October 17.

WBUR reports that despite the eviction ban, some landlords are using threats and intimidation to pressure tenants to leave their homes. Unofficial eviction tactics have spiked during the pandemic, especially in communities with high concentrations of working-class immigrants and Spanish speakers.

Advocates estimate 100,000 Massachusetts residents could face eviction when the state’s moratorium expired on October 17. Several days after Massachusetts announced the $171 million Eviction Diversion Initiative, Governor Charlie Baker said extending the eviction moratorium would merely deepen debt for tenants and landlords.

Minnesota

NBC News examines how racial inequality, stagnant wages, and skyrocketing housing costs have created a significant homelessness crisis in Minneapolis and across the country.

Nevada

Governor Steve Sisolak confirmed on October 14 he would not extend Nevada’s moratorium on evictions for nonpayment of rent, which expired on October 15. Governor Sisolak said extending the statewide moratorium “would just be duplicative” because of the CDC eviction moratorium. The Guinn Center Director of Economic Policy Meredith Levine raised concerns that tenants may face barriers to receiving the federal eviction protections because the burden is on the tenant.

New Jersey

In a six-part series, USA Today examines how racism is fueling COVID-19 deaths. In New Jersey’s most segregated county, Essex County, segregation fueled the spread of COVID-19.

New York

Legal Services Corporation reports New Yorkers are still being evicted despite the statewide and federal eviction moratoriums.

Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks, in a memo released on October 9, said evictions – including those for non-payment of rent – may resume in New York on October 12, but with “important caveats.”

Pennsylvania

Governor Tom Wolf announced on October 13 the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency is improving the COVID Relief Mortgage and Rental Assistance Grant Program to help more renters and homeowners remain in their homes. Effective October 17, landlords and mortgagees will have a new option to reach agreements with renters and homeowners for repayment above the program’s $750 monthly cap. The program previously required them to forgive the balance of the payment.

South Carolina

An article in the State discusses actions Midlands area homeless service providers have taken to protect the health and safety of people experiencing homelessness.

Texas

Dallas News reports homelessness encampments have increased across the city amid the pandemic. The Dallas City Council has earmarked more money for cleanups, but advocates and officials are struggling to find permanent housing solutions for unsheltered individuals.

Virginia

The Henrico Citizen reports that while the CDC moratorium has protected some residents, many tenants facing eviction are unaware of the moratorium and other resources, such as legal aid and rental assistance. According to court data, a total of 1,358 unlawful detainer hearings took place in Henrico between June 29 and October 2.

Washington

Governor Jay Inslee extended Washington’s statewide eviction moratorium through the end of the year.

Washington DC

The Washington Post reports on local efforts by Census workers, advocates, and officials to produce a more comprehensive count of people experiencing homelessness amid the pandemic. It is especially critical to accurately account for people experiencing homelessness due to the looming eviction crisis that will likely cause a surge in homelessness and an increased need for resources.

Wisconsin

The Leader Telegraph reports a dramatic increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness living outdoors from one year ago.

Guidance

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Frequently Asked Questions: HHS/CDC Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions to Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19 - October 9

Department of Housing and Urban Development

Office of Multifamily Housing Stakeholders: COVID-19 Questions and Answers - Updated October 14

COVID-19 Homeless System Response: Social Distancing - Inspired Ideas for Addressing Loneliness

COVID-19 Homeless System Response: Staying Safe While Going Back to the Office

COVID-19 Homeless System Response: Engaging Clients with Remote Case Management

COVID-19 Homeless System Response: Framework for Enhancing Safety in Your Homeless Response System

COVID-19 Homeless System Response: Rehousing Out of Non-Congregate Shelter - Maximizing Placements

ESG-CV Notice Review for Metro Cities, Urban Counties, and Territories Webinar - Materials Posted

ESG-CV Reporting Requirements Training Series for State/Territory ESG Recipients - Materials Posted

ESG-CV Reporting Requirements Training Series for City/County ESG Recipients - Materials Posted

FEMA

COVID-19 Supplemental Resources Search Tool