Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) led a bipartisan group of 16 senators in a letter sent on April 17 to Senate Appropriations Chair Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-VT) urging them to include emergency funding to help rural renters in the next COVID-19 emergency relief package. The previous package, the CARES Act, failed to provide any funding for the USDA Rural Housing Service programs. These programs provide a vital source of affordable housing for low-income households, particularly seniors and individuals with disabilities, in rural areas. The letter notes that 86% of the persistently poor counties in the United States (defined as having a poverty rate of 20% or more over several decades) are in rural areas.
"Many of these rural households were already one crisis away from losing stable housing, and now residents’ incomes are likely to decline due to illness or unemployment as a result of COVID-19," write the senators. "It is more important than ever to ensure that individuals and families living in small towns and rural areas are not forgotten during this pandemic. We urge you to provide robust emergency funding for Section 521 Rural Rental Assistance in the next supplemental appropriations package to mitigate the impact of this crisis in rural communities."
View the letter here: https://bit.ly/2XStK7E