Negotiations on COVID-19 Relief Package Break Down

Negotiations between congressional leaders and the White House broke down over the weekend as President Trump issued four executive orders and memorandums on August 8 purporting to extend protections to struggling households, including those households at risk of evictions. As described by NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel in today’s Point of View, “the executive order signed this weekend by President Trump is an empty shell of a promise that does nothing to prevent evictions and homelessness and acts only to mislead renters into believing that they are protected when they are not.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin indicated on August 9 that they would be willing to consider a narrower deal to extend some aid until the end of the year, and then revisit the need for more federal assistance in January. The outcome of November’s election would have a significant impact on longer-term negotiations.

Adding to the pressure to reach an agreement is the expiration of emergency resources and protections provided in the CARES Act. The federal eviction moratorium expired on July 24, and expanded unemployment benefits ran out at the end of July. Most recently, the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides loans to help keep businesses open, stopped taking applications on August 8.

Congress and President Trump must take action immediately to prevent a wave of evictions and an increase in homelessness. NLIHC and other researchers estimate that 30 million to 40 million renters are at risk of being evicted by the end of the year. Economist Mark Zandi estimates that renters already owe $25 billion in back rent and could owe as much as $70 billion by the end of the year – a debt these renters cannot possibly pay off.