On Monday January 21st, Congress passed a combined omnibus appropriations bill and COVID-19 relief package. In total, the bill contains $2.3 trillion, which includes $1.4 trillion to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30 and $900 billion in economic relief.
The $900 billion economic relief section of the bill received the most attention and provides the following resources:
- $25 billion to the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF). Funds may be used for back and forward rent, utility payments, and other housing expenses. Assistance can be provided for 12 months. States and localities can provide an additional three months of assistance “if necessary to ensure housing stability for a household” Under the legislation, cities and states can make payments directly to landlords or utility companies on behalf of renters. If a landlord refuses to accept the rental assistance, cities and states can give assistance directly to the renter, who can then make payments to the landlord or utility provider.
- Extension of the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) federal eviction moratorium to January 31, 2021;
- Extension of the CRF spending deadline from the CARES Act to December 31, 2021;
- A permanent floor for the 4% Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) rate;
- $9 billion Emergency Capital Investment Program (ECIP) to provide low-cost, long-term capital investments to minority depository institutions (MDIs) and community development financial institutions (CDFIs); and
- $3 billion to the CDFI Fund to provide grants and other financial assistance to CDFIs.
In addition to these much needed resources for tenants, the relief bill contains funding for stimulus checks, extended unemployment benefits, and small business loans.
The FY21 THUD budget also provides the following housing resources:
- $7.8 billion for the Public Housing Fund;
- $3.5 billion for CDBG;
- $3 billion for Homeless Assistance Grants;
- $43 million in new Section 8 vouchers for Homeless Individuals and Families, including veterans and survivors of domestic violence;
- $1.4 billion for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program;
- $855 million for Section 202 Housing for the Elderly; and
- $227 million for Section 811 Housing for Persons with Disabilities;
This spending and relief bill provides much needed financial support for millions of renters struggling to pay their rent and may prevent millions more from losing their homes in January. However, more advocacy will be needed next year to continue to ensure people have the supports they need to pay their rent and mortgage as well as recover from the pandemic.