The Senate failed to pass a “targeted” relief bill by a vote of 51-44 on October 21. The bill, totaling approximately $519 billion, proposed additional funding to hospitals and schools, expanded unemployment benefits, and money for small business loans, but included nothing for housing or homelessness. While negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the White House continue, the speaker signaled that a relief bill is unlikely to pass before the November 3 elections, even if negotiators are able to reach a deal in the coming days.
Speaker Pelosi noted the process of drafting legislative text and having a bill reviewed by the Congressional Budget Office and legal counsel before being brought to the floor for a vote is time consuming, and with fewer than two weeks before the election there is little time to get it done. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) reportedly advised the White House against reaching a deal on a large-scale relief package before the election.
Communities are struggling to meet the urgent needs of people experiencing homelessness who are at greater risk of severe illness, hospitalizations, and death due to coronavirus. NLIHC and other experts estimate that without federal intervention, 30 to 40 million renters are at risk of losing their homes when the federal eviction moratorium expires at the end of the year. In the meantime, small landlords who rely on rental income to maintain and operate their properties will increasingly struggle to pay their bills.
The time for political games and brinkmanship has long passed. Every day of inaction puts more low-income renters at risk of losing their homes. The White House and Congress should continue to negotiate and quickly enact a relief package that includes critical resources to keep renters stably housed and address the housing and health needs of people experiencing homelessness.