Congress Agrees to 2 Trillion Dollar COVID-19 Relief Bill with Emergency Housing Measures

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis continues, the U.S. Senate has passed landmark legislation, the CARES Act (see legislative text here), providing $2 trillion to combat the spread of the virus, deepen the safety net for impacted households, and support impacted business. The House of Representatives is now expected to pass the legislation on Friday, and President Trump to sign it shortly thereafter.

Major provisions the CARES Act include:

  • Hospitals and health care entities: $100 billion to combat the spread of the virus
  • Rebate payments: Up to $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for married couples making under $75,000 and $150,000, respectively, as well as $500 per child (payments phase out for those making over $99,000 as a single filer and $198,000 as joint filers with no children)
  • Expanded unemployment benefits: An additional $600 per week for 4 months for those receiving unemployment benefits
  • Impacted businesses: Assistance for significantly impacted business, including up to a $5,000 tax credit for each employee kept on payroll during the crisis and forgivable loans for small businesses
  • Impacted industries: $500 billion in loans to impacted industries, such as hospitality, including a set-aside for airlines and cargo air carriers
  • Impacted states and local governments: $150 billion, with $8 billion set aside for local and tribal governments

The legislation also includes substantial emergency stabilization resources for housing, including:

  • Over $12 billion in new appropriations for HUD programs (p. 843 of the bill), including:
    • $5 billion: Community Development Fund
    • $4 billion: Homeless Assistance Grants / Emergency Solutions Grants
    • $1.25 billion: Tenant-Based Rental Assistance
    • $1 billion: Project-Based Rental Assistance
    • $685 million: Public Housing Operating Fund
    • $300 million: Native American Programs
    • $65 million: Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS
    • $50 million: Housing for the Elderly (Section 202)
    • $15 million: Housing for Persons with Disabilities (Section 811)
  • 60 day foreclosure moratorium on all federally-backed mortgage loans and up to 180 days forbearance (and an additional 180 day extension if needed) for borrowers of a federally-backed mortgage loan, both beginning March 18 (p. 567 of the bill)
  • Up to 90 day forbearance of residential mortgage loan payments for multifamily properties of 5+ units with federally-backed loans if borrowers do not evict or charge late fees to tenants during the forbearance period (p. 570 of the bill)
  • 120 day moratorium on eviction filings or other legal action to charge fees or penalties if the property is insured, guaranteed, supplemented, protected, or assisted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the rural housing voucher program, or the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (p. 574 of the bill)

AHTCC Urges Inclusion of Housing Credit Provisions in Future Relief Legislation and Regulation

Congress is already beginning discussions around a fourth and other future federal aid packages to provide additional relief to American households and businesses. The AHTCC will advocate for the inclusion of Housing Credit provisions that will allow us to continue building and preserving affordable housing with minimal disruption, at a time when it is needed more than ever. Along with our partners in the ACTION Campaign, the AHTCC is immediately seeking:

  • Extensions of three key deadlines: the 10 percent test, placed in service, and rehabilitation expenditure deadlines, to accommodate for construction and lease-up delays during the crisis, and
  • A minimum 4 percent Housing Credit rate to support the development of affordable housing at a time when the “4 percent” Housing Credit rate has fallen to an all-time low of 3.12 percent as a result of the recent federal borrowing rate cuts.

To learn more about these Housing Credit-related proposals, see the AHTCC blog post. Beyond the immediate changes above, we will also advocate for additional resources and flexibilities for affordable housing as part of any future economic recovery package, and we are pursuing both congressional and regulatory avenues for enacting these changes. We encourage any suggestions and policy considerations from AHTCC members and stakeholders.

For additional information about the federal COVID-19 response as it relates to the Housing Credit, visit our resource page, which we will continue to update as more information becomes available.