NLIHC submitted on June 17 a comment to the Treasury Department on its Interim Final Rule for the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (Fiscal Recovery Funds) authorized in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA; see Memo, 6/7). ARPA allocated $350 billion in Fiscal Recovery Funds to help states, counties, cities, and tribal governments respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency, address its economic fallout, and lay the foundation for an equitable recovery.
Fiscal Recovery Funds can be used to help meet communities’ affordable housing needs, including providing emergency rental assistance, addressing the housing and health needs of people experiencing homelessness, and building and preserving affordable housing in impacted communities. The Interim Final Rule governing distribution of these funds raised questions for affordable housing advocates, who need clarity on the specific ways Fiscal Recovery Funds can be used to support the development, preservation, and operation of affordable housing, and additional guidelines to ensure funds are being targeted to communities with the greatest needs and distributed equitably.
With input from state and local advocates, NLIHC drafted a comment to Treasury with suggestions for how the department can alter the Interim Final Rule to address the affordable, accessible housing needs of the lowest-income renters. The comment encourages Treasury to clarify the meaning of “development” to mean the “construction preservation, rehabilitation, or operation of housing affordable to very low-income households,” to guarantee the longest possible affordability period, and to ensure at least 10% of housing built with federal assistance is accessible to people with physical disabilities, and at least 4% is accessible to people with sensory disabilities.
The comment recommends that Treasury expand funding availability for low-income housing developments beyond Qualified Census Tracts (QCTs) and instead require grantees to follow HUD’s 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule to help undo racial segregation in communities. Treasury should also target housing investments to those households and populations disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, including people with the lowest-incomes; Black, Indigenous, and other people of color; people with disabilities; people with limited English proficiency; and immigrants, among other groups. Communities should also be encouraged to use Fiscal Recovery Funds to help prevent evictions, including supporting access to legal aid, establishing eviction diversion programs, and supporting housing navigator programs to help tenants apply for and receive emergency rental assistance.
Read the full comment at: https://bit.ly/3q7jB2R
Review NLIHC’s factsheet on Fiscal Recovery Funds at: https://bit.ly/3vCAtAM
See Treasury’s Interim Final Rule for Fiscal Recovery Funds at: https://bit.ly/3byMGy7