During the most recent national call on coronavirus, disasters, housing, and homelessness, participants heard about the impact of the winter storm in Texas, discussed the Department of Treasury’s new FAQ on emergency rental assistance (ERA), learned about state and local efforts to expand right to counsel laws, and discussed the how the new FEMA Executive Order could be improved to serve people with disabilities living in congregate settings. The call also included field updates and an update about the status of the COVID-19 relief bill.
Eric Samuels of the Texas Homeless Network discussed the impact of the recent winter storm in Texas, where at least six people experiencing homelessness passed away as a result of the storm. NLIHC’s Diane Yentel discussed Treasury’s revised FAQ on ERA. The new guidance allows for self-attestation in almost all cases where eligibility is required, gives flexibility in the documentation that can be used to prove residency, and allows ERA funding to cover certain internet costs related to school, work, or telehealth. The FAQ also makes clear that households living federally subsidized properties are eligible for ERA and shortens the timeline for providing assistance directly to residents if landlords refuse assistance or cannot be contacted.
John Pollock from the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel discussed the need for right to counsel laws for tenants facing eviction. Right to counsel laws have been introduced in cities and states across the country, and areas that have implemented right to counsel laws have seen reductions in evictions – in New York City, 86% of tenants with legal representation remain in their homes, and in Cleveland, Ohio, 93% of those represented avoided eviction or an involuntary move.
Marcie Roth of the World Institute on Disability provided insights on how a recent FEMA Executive Order can be improved to allow people with disabilities living in congregate care facilities to move to safer, non-congregate settings. Thirty-nine percent of all COVID-19 deaths have been in nursing homes, but despite the urgent safety concern the FEMA Executive Order does not apply to people living in institutional settings. We received field updates from John Pourciau of the City of New Orleans’ Mayor’s Office, who discussed the implementation and success of the city’s rental assistance program, and Adrienne Bush from the Homeless and Housing Coalition of Kentucky, who highlighted the rate of evictions in Louisville, despite the CDC eviction moratorium. NLIHC’s Sarah Saadian provided updates on the American Rescue Plan Act.
NLIHC hosts national calls on Coronavirus, Disasters, Housing, and Homelessness every week. On today’s call, we will be joined by Noel Poyo, deputy assistant secretary for community economic development at the Department of the Treasury. Register for today’s call (Monday, March 1 at 2:30 pm ET) at: https://tinyurl.com/ru73qan
Watch a recording of the February 22 call at: tinyurl.com/199ygmww
Access presentation slides at: tinyurl.com/e9gnhukq