COVID-19 – Summaries of Federal Legislation

From the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities – Summary of the HEROES Act:

Key Housing Provisions in the Heroes Act
As we explain in a new blog, the new House bill has several crucial provisions to help people experiencing homelessness stay safe and prevent more low-income people from losing their housing during the crises. These include:
  • $100 billion for short- and medium-term rental assistance, which — along with the bill’s funding for emergency income assistance and increased food assistance — would go a long way toward enabling families to meet basic needs through this crisis;
  • $11.5 billion in homelessness assistance funds to help people move out of encampments and shelters, where they risk contracting COVID-19;
  • $4 billion for Housing Choice Vouchers, which will help housing agencies avoid cuts in their existing voucher programs and support 100,000 new emergency housing vouchers for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, and survivors of domestic violence.  These new vouchers are critical because they’re the bill’s only funding for new sustained housing assistance for people who need longer-term help. As we’ve written previously, many more than 100,000 new vouchers are needed; and
  • nearly $3.5 billion to help keep families in public housing and privately owned, subsidized housing safe and housed.
New Resource: A Framework for COVID-19 Homelessness Response
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the National Alliance to End Homelessness released a Framework to help recipients of CARES Act Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds make strategic decisions on the use of their funding. Using a racial justice and equity approach, the Framework incorporates the practices that we know work to prevent or end homelessness with a public health and economic recovery orientation specific to this crisis. It also includes an approximate timeline for recommended actions so that communities can focus on the right activities at the right times while also building towards longer-term goals like economic recovery and preparedness for future public health crises.
HUD Issues Mainstream Vouchers for People with Disabilities
On Monday, HUD awarded about $77 million in funding for up to 8,300 new Mainstream vouchers to help people with disabilities who aren’t elderly find stable housing amid the public health and economic crises. Public housing agencies and their community partners can use this new voucher funding to help people with disabilities living in nursing homes and other institutional care settings, many of which are facing large outbreaks of COVID-19, move out of institutions and into their own rental unit in the community. The vouchers can also help people with disabilities living in homeless shelters or on the streets move into stable housing where they will be safer during the pandemic, as well as help those at risk of homeless stay safely housed.

The funding went to public housing agencies that previously received Mainstream awards, which are listed here. While Mainstream awards are typically issued after a competitive application process, the Coronavirus Relief, Aid and Economic Security (CARES) Act required HUD to issue at least a portion of remaining Mainstream funding (which Congress appropriated in fiscal years 2017 and 2019) to public housing agencies that received Mainstream awards in prior years.

The following links provide more details about the CARES Act:

 

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