Updated May 19, 2020
On May 15, the House of Representatives passed a bill in a narrow party-line vote that would provide $3 trillion to address emergency measures as part of the ongoing coronavirus response. H.R. 6800, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES Act), includes funding for a wide range of programs, including critical investments in affordable housing and community development. In addition to other non-housing related provisions, the bill would provide $100 billion for emergency rental assistance through the Emergency Solutions Grant program, establish a $75 million fund to help homeowners pay their mortgages, and expand and extend the eviction moratorium and forbearance allowances established under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act that Congress passed in March. However, the HEROES Act does not include the immediate relief needed for the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit) as a result of the crisis.
It is now up to the Senate to take up the next COVID-19 response package, the leadership of which has so far dismissed the House bill as dead on arrival. We expect that the Senate, once it begins working on legislation, will have different priorities than the House and legislation coming from that chamber will likely be narrower in scope.
View the full bill text.
View the section-by-section summary.
Funding for Affordable Housing in HEROES Act
The following housing-related provisions are included in the HEROES Act:
$100 billion for a new Emergency Rental Assistance program, based off of the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) framework, to assist renters who are unable to attain or maintain housing stability
$75 billion to create a Homeowners Assistance Fund at the state, local, and tribal levels to help homeowners with mortgage payments, insurance, property taxes, and other costs
$11.5 billion in Homeless Assistance Grants, in addition to the $100 billion for rental assistance through ESG
$1 billion for new emergency housing vouchers for people experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness and survivors of domestic violence
$5 billion in Community Development Block Grants
$4 billion in Tenant Based Rental Assistance
$2 billion in Public Housing Operating funding
$500 million in additional funding for elderly housing
$1 billion for Community Development Financial Institutions to respond to the COVID-19 impact in distressed communities
$750 million in Project-Based Rental Assistance
$309 million for rural rental assistance
$200 million for housing for persons with disabilities
Notably, the HEROES Act also amends the eviction moratorium and multifamily forbearance provisions in the CARES Act that Congress passed in March. While Housing Credit tenants were always covered by the eviction moratorium, the HEROES Act applies that moratorium to all renters retroactively to when the CARES Act was enacted, and extends the time period for the moratorium to 12 months after the enactment of the CARES Act. It also extends the multifamily property forbearance allowances for both 1-4 unit properties as well as all multifamily properties—not just those with federally backed mortgages or federal assistance, which would cover all Housing Credit properties—and aligns the timeframe for forbearance to that of the eviction moratorium (12-months).
Housing Credit Advocacy
The ACTION Campaign will continue to advocate for our priorities for immediate relief to be included in the next COVID-19 relief package as it is negotiated with the Senate. In particular, we will advocate for enacting a minimum 4 percent Housing Credit rate as a top priority, given that the 4 percent Housing Credit rate fluctuates monthly based on federal borrowing rates and therefore is at an all-time low, jeopardizing the financial viability of critical affordable housing developments currently in the pipeline.
We will also continue to advocate for lowering the “50 percent test” threshold for bond financing required to access 4 percent Housing Credits, so that affordable housing developments facing new expenses due to COVID-19 do not risk losing access to the critical 4 percent Housing Credit.
Let your Senators know that the next COVID-19 relief package should include these Housing Credit priorities since the COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated the shortage of affordable housing nationwide. Share the ACTION sign-on letter with 2,354 organizations urging Congress to include our Housing Credit proposals in the next COVID-19 relief package.
For more Covid-19 resources and updates, visit www.rentalhousingaction.org/covid19.
Questions or comments? Contact Sarah Brundage at firstname.lastname@example.org