A COVID-19 emergency bill passed in the House by a bipartisan vote of 363-40 on the night of March 13. The vote came after a tentative agreement was reached between House Democrats and the administration on emergency funding for COVID-19 response. The bill includes two weeks of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and medical leave, and it enhances unemployment insurance and food assistance. But the bill includes no desperately needed funding for homelessness and housing. The bill’s bipartisan support in the House and approval by President Trump put pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel to move on the bill quickly without changes.
While the bill as written is much needed, the legislation does not include critical resources for people experiencing homelessness, who are at great risk of COVID-19 infection, or for people at risk of homelessness. NLIHC and its Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DHRC) pushed for the inclusion of a proposal released by Senate Democrats that included robust housing supports, including emergency rental assistance, eviction prevention, and resources for homeless service providers, among others. Many of the measures reflected the set of recommendations released by the DHRC to ensure housing stability during the crisis. Sadly, none of these measures were included in the bill.
“Congress is about to pass an emergency spending bill that entirely neglects the urgent needs of people experiencing homelessness, a shameful and glaring oversight,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel in a statement. “People experiencing homelessness are at high risk of both severe illness from coronavirus and of potentially spreading it to others given their inability to isolate or quarantine after being exposed to the illness. Providing resources to protect against an outbreak of coronavirus among people who are homeless is not only a moral imperative, it’s an urgent public health necessity.”
Read the text of the Emergency Package at: https://bit.ly/3cS6ED4
Read the DHRC’s Coronavirus Response Recommendations at: https://bit.ly/2WfuJhk
Read Diane’s statement on the House vote at: https://bit.ly/2QgZwXk