The House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) released on February 5 a COVID-19 relief bill that would provide urgently needed resources for America’s lowest-income renters and people experiencing homelessness.
The bill provides $25 billion in rental assistance including: $19.05 billion for emergency rental assistance (ERA); $5 billion for emergency housing vouchers; $750 million for tribal housing needs; and $100 million for rural housing.
The bill also provides $5 billion to assist people who are homeless with immediate and longer-term assistance, $9.96 billion for homeowner assistance, and $100 million for housing counseling. The Education and Labor Committee’s relief bill may provide an additional $5 billion in utility assistance.
If enacted, these investments will help prevent millions of low-income people from losing their homes during the pandemic and will provide cities and states with the resources they need to help people experiencing homelessness be safely housed during and after the pandemic.
Please contact your senators and representatives and urge them to quickly enact a comprehensive relief package that includes these essential housing and homelessness resources!
The bill unfortunately does not include an extension of the eviction moratorium through September, as President Biden urged, because the mechanism (“reconciliation”) that Democrats are using to quickly pass this bill does not allow for it to be included. It is essential that President Biden and CDC Director Walensky continue to use executive authority to strengthen, enforce and further extend the moratorium.
Congress is moving quickly to pass COVID-19 relief legislation in the coming weeks. The Democratic leadership is moving ahead with a budget reconciliation process that allows Congress to pass a relief package with a simple majority of 51 votes. The Senate and House have passed budget resolutions setting the topline spending limit for a relief package that matches President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief proposal. Now, each committee will quickly vote on individual spending bills for programs within their jurisdictions before they are combined into a full package for final votes. Congress and the White House are aiming to enact a new COVID relief bill by mid-March, when expanded unemployment benefits and other resources expire.
The House Financial Services Committee will vote on its bill and any filed amendments on February 10 and 11.
The bill provides $19.05 billion to the Emergency Rental Assistance program created by Congress in December, with several improvements, including: households can receive assistance for up to 18 months; the deadline to spend funds is extended to September 2025; and eligibility is extended to cover households experiencing financial hardship during or due to the pandemic. Additional funds are provided for rural households living in properties financed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) ($100 million), and for tribal nations through HUD’s native housing programs ($750 million).
The bill also takes an important first step toward longer-term solutions by allocating $5 billion to provide tens of thousands of emergency housing vouchers to provide housing stability during and after the pandemic.
As proposed by President Biden, the bill provides $5 billion to assist people experiencing homelessness. In addition to addressing the immediate need for supportive services and rental assistance, these funds can be used to develop or convert properties into non-congregate housing, permanent supportive housing, and other long-term housing solutions.
The bill also provides $9.96 billion to support homeowners at risk of foreclosure, and $100 million for housing counseling. An additional $5 billion is expected to be provided in a separate bill for utility assistance through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
- Contact your senators and representatives and urge them to quickly enact a comprehensive relief package that includes these resources and provisions and other essential relief for low-income and marginalized people.
- Hear the latest updates and learn more about needed advocacy: join our weekly national call on Coronavirus, Disasters, Housing and Homelessness.