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Senate Democrats Release Proposal for Coronavirus Response, Include Important Provisions for Housing and Homelessness

Senate Democrats released a proposal on March 11 to address the health and economic needs of individuals and communities impacted by the coronavirus. In addition to funding for emergency unemployment insurance, paid sick days, local economic relief, and nutrition programs, the proposal contains several important housing provisions to ensure low-income households and people experiencing homelessness are able to access shelter and housing-stability services.

The housing provisions include creating an emergency rental assistance fund, like the one proposed by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Rob Portman (R-OH) in the “Eviction Crisis Act” (S.3030; see Memo, 12/16/19), to help households struggling to afford rent or utilities because of a coronavirus-related drop in pay or job loss. This proposal is one that has been championed by the NLIHC-led Opportunity Starts at Home multisector affordable homes campaign. The senators also proposed supplemental financial assistance for public housing authorities, housing assistance providers, and homeless service organizations to better assist people experiencing homelessness and ensure residents of federally assisted housing can remain safely and stably housed.

Representatives Nina Lowey (D-NY), Bobby Scott (D-VA), Richard Neal (D-MA), Sanford Bishop (D-GA), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), and Collin Peterson (D-MN) introduced the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” (H.R.6201) in the House on March 11. While the emergency supplemental would provide important resources, including paid sick leave, emergency unemployment insurance, and additional funding for nutrition programs, the bill does not contain provisions to address the housing needs of low-income people and people experiencing homelessness, who are at an elevated risk in the coronavirus pandemic. In a statement, NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel urged members of Congress to “amend the emergency supplemental to include robust resources to help protect our homeless populations and allow low-income people to continue to keep a roof over their head during and after this crisis.”

Read the Senate Democrats’ coronavirus proposal at: https://bit.ly/3aQlb0c

Watch the Senate Democrats’ press conference on the proposal at: https://bit.ly/2TZKLZX

Learn more about the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” at: https://bit.ly/2WeoE4y

Read Diane’s statement at: https://bit.ly/2Q8Liru