House Passes Coronavirus Relief Package with Over $40 Billion for Housing and Homelessness

The House of Representatives passed by a vote of 219 to 212 the “American Rescue Plan Act,” a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package containing $40 billion in essential housing and homelessness assistance, including $26 billion for rental assistance and $5 billion to assist people who are homeless. These investments will help prevent millions of low-income people from losing their homes during the pandemic and will provide cities and states with the resources they need to help people experiencing homelessness find and remain safely housed throughout the duration of the pandemic and beyond.

Before the floor vote, the House Rules Committee passed a manager’s amendment that included several improvements to the bill, including increasing funding for emergency rental assistance (ERA) by $1.2 billion and directing these additional funds to high-need communities based on the number of very low-income renter households paying more than 50% of income on rent or living in substandard or overcrowded conditions, rental market costs, and employment trends. NLIHC and others advocates urged Congress to better target emergency rental assistance to communities with the greatest needs. The amendment also moves up the date to reallocate unspent funds from September 30, 2022 to March 31, 2022; reduces the initial tranche of funding to grantees from 50% to 40% of their total allocation; and provides $20 million to support fair housing activities during the pandemic.

Although the Senate parliamentarian ruled on the evening of February 25 that the provision to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour violates the parameters of the reconciliation process, congressional leaders in the House kept the provision in the bill. As the bill moves to the Senate, Democratic leaders will determine whether to remove the provision from the Senate bill or keep the provision and likely have it subjected to a “Point of Order” during debate and removed.

Senate leaders are expected to skip committee votes and bring the bill to the Senate floor for up to 20 hours of debate, followed by a “vote-a-rama,” during which senators will have the opportunity to offer an unlimited number of amendments to the bill before a floor vote. The House and Senate are aiming to have the bill finalized and sent to President Biden before March 14, when the pandemic-extended unemployment benefits are slated to expire.

Read NLIHC’s analysis of the housing provisions included in the “American Rescue Plan Act” at:

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