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Representatives Heck and Waters and Senator Brown Introduce Bill to Provide $100 Billion in Emergency Rental Assistance

Representatives Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Denny Heck (D-WA), along with 133 House cosponsors, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and 24 Senate cosponsors, introduced the “Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act” on May 8. The bill would provide $100 billion in emergency rental assistance to ensure that lower-income households remain stably housed during the coronavirus pandemic. NLIHC and 120 other national organizations sent a letter to congressional leadership in support of the bill.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, nearly ten million extremely and very low-income renter households were severely housing cost-burdened, spending more than half their incomes on rent. These households have little margin for unexpected expenses. Temporary declines in income or new medical bills as a result of the coronavirus can quickly lead to housing instability, eviction, and homelessness. NLIHC estimates that at least $100 billion is needed to preserve housing for these renters, and the proposed bill would provide that level of support. Although expanded unemployment insurance and other provisions of the CARES Act provided critical resources to people experiencing homelessness and those on the brink, current levels of funding are insufficient to keep the lowest-income families stably housed during this ongoing public health and economic crisis.

The proposed act would provide emergency rental assistance to households experiencing homelessness and those at risk. Households at or below 80% of area median income (AMI) would be eligible for assistance, with 40% of the funds reserved for those below 30% AMI. The bill would allow state and local grantees to:

  • Provide short- and medium-term rental assistance for up to 24 months;
  • Cover up to 6 months of back rent and late fees; and
  • Pay for housing relocation or stabilization activities such as utility deposits and payments, moving costs, and application fees.

Under the bill, HUD would be required to allocate 50% of funds to states and communities within seven days of enactment using existing formulas under McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants. These funds would be obligated and disbursed to grantees within 30 days. The remaining funds would be allocated to states and communities within 45 days of enactment using a formula developed by the HUD secretary based on need. The formula would consider severe housing-cost burdens among extremely and very low-income renters, as well as disruptions in housing, employment, and economic conditions caused by coronavirus.

Two percent of the funds would be allocated to Native American tribes and Native Hawaiians. If any funds are not expended after 3 years, 65% of the remaining resources would be directed to the national Housing Trust Fund. The other 35% would be directed to the Capital Magnet Fund.

Read “The Need for Emergency Rental Assistance During the COVID-19 and Economic Crisis” at: https://tinyurl.com/vqyr29u

View NLHIC’s factsheet on the bill at: https://tinyurl.com/ybgx5v7q

Read the letter from NLIHC and 120 other national organizations supporting the bill at: https://tinyurl.com/y96z5e84  

Read a letter from 35 national non-housing organizations supporting the bill through the NLIHC-led Opportunity Starts at Home campaign at: https://bit.ly/2xQbXU2

A House Financial Services Committee press release about the bill is at: https://bit.ly/35I1p5T

A Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee press release about the bill is at: https://bit.ly/2WdP3zk