Congress is working to finalize an economic stimulus package to provide needed relief to individuals and businesses as the government responds to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since members of the House are in their home districts, the Senate is leading the negotiations. The latest proposal from Senate Republicans includes some critical funding for homelessness and housing programs but falls short of the actual need and does not have bipartisan support. Democratic and Republican leaders are negotiating with the administration on a package that can pass the Senate on a bipartisan basis. Once the measure passes in the Senate, members of the members of the House will vote, with the goal of sending it to the president’s desk for his signature by mid-week. NLIHC encourages advocates to call their members of Congress and urge them to provide sufficient resources to respond to the needs of people experiencing homelessness and low-income renters.
Thanks to the tireless work of advocates across the country, the latest Republican bill provides some desperately needed housing and homelessness resources. The proposal includes $4 billion in Emergency Solutions Grants (ESGs) to help prevent an COVID-19 outbreak among people experiencing homelessness, $1.25 billion for tenant-based rental assistance to assist low income renters and the landlords accepting such assistance and to ensure vouchers are not lost due to increased costs, $1 billion for project-based rental assistance to support and maintain the health and safety of households, $685 million for the public housing operating fund to cover public housing agencies’ increased costs, $200 million for Native American Housing Block Grants and an additional $100 million for Indian Community Development Block Grants to assist Native tribes responding the pandemic, $65 million for Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA), $10 billion for the Community Development Block Grant program (using the same formula as fiscal year 2020), $50 million for Section 202 housing for the elderly with up to $10 million for service coordinators, $15 million for Section 811 housing for people with disabilities, and $2.5 million for fair housing activities.
While these resources are an important start in meeting the needs, NLIHC encourages advocates to continue contacting their members of Congress and urge them to follow NLIHC’s recommended policy priorities. NLIHC and other partners are asking Congress to provide $15.5 billion in ESG funds; an analysis shows that these funds are needed to allow shelters to practice social distancing and help isolate those most at risk during the pandemic.
NLIHC is also advocating for tens of billions of dollars in emergency rental assistance and a national moratorium on evictions and foreclosures for homeowners and renters during this crisis.
Read NLIHC’s policy priorities at: nlihc.org/responding-coronavirus
Find the latest updates and news related to COVID-19 and housing and homelessness at: nlihc.org/coronavirus-and-housing-homelessness