Alert: Third COVID-19 Response Bill Advances, Housing Credit Advocacy Continues

Today, the House is expected to pass the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was already passed by the Senate on March 25. The President is expected to sign it shortly thereafter. The CARES Act is the third response bill to the growing coronavirus crisis.

While the package does not include relief from certain Housing Credit statutory deadlines as ACTION had requested, these requests appear to be well-positioned for inclusion in what we hope will be further Congressional action soon.

Specifically, the ACTION Campaign and industry participants are urging Congress to provide 12-month extensions for the program’s 10 percent test, placed in service deadlines, and rehabilitation expenditure deadlines. ACTION is also urging Congress to immediately enact a minimum 4 percent Housing Credit rate, as the credit rate for bond-financed properties and acquisition is at an all time low due to historically low federal borrowing rates. This has the potential to make some properties currently in the pipeline no longer financially feasible. ACTION will continue to advocate for these statutory asks to be included in future stimulus packages.

The legislation does, however, contain numerous housing related provisions:

  • $12.4 billion in new appropriations for HUD programs:
  • $5 billion for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG);
  • $4 billion for homeless assistance through Emergency Solutions Grants;
  • $1.25 billion for Tenant-Based Rental Assistance;
  • $1 billion for Project-Based Rental Assistance;
  • $685 million for the Public Housing Operating Fund;
  • $300 million for Native American programs, including $200 million for the Native American Housing Block Grants program and $100 million for the Indian Community Development Block Grant program;
  • $65 million for the Housing Opportunities for Person with AIDS (HOPWA);
  • $50 million for the Section 202 Housing for the Elderly;
  • $50 million for additional administrative expenses incurred by HUD due to COVID-19;
  • $15 million for the Section 811 Housing for Persons with Disabilities;
  • $5 million for the HUD Inspector General to provide oversight for the additional funds being distributed; and
  • $2.5 million for fair housing activities including enforcement and outreach.
  • Forbearance of residential mortgage loan payments for multifamily properties:
  • Up to 90-day forbearance of residential mortgage loan payments for certain multifamily properties of up to 5+ units. This provision applies to all properties with mortgage loans that are insured, guaranteed, supplemented or assisted in any way by the federal government or in connection with any HUD program or related program administered by any federal agency. It also applies to loans purchased or securitized by either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. The language appears to make forbearance available to all Housing Credit properties.
  • Moratorium on eviction filings:
  • 120-day moratorium on eviction filings or other legal action to charge fees or penalties applicable to all properties insured, guaranteed, supplemented, protected, or assisted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the rural housing voucher program, including all properties considered financed by “covered programs” under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 1994. The Housing Credit is a covered program under VAWA, and thus the moratorium on evictions applies to all Housing Credit properties.

The CARES Act also includes many programs and provisions to provide relief to individuals, businesses and state and local governments. Click here to view the full text of the CARES Act.

Housing Credit Advocacy Strategy

With the third coronavirus response bill soon to be enacted, it is likely that Congress will shift its attention to a fourth round of legislation addressing the growing crisis in the weeks ahead. The ACTION Campaign will continue its work to ensure that future legislation addresses the needs of the Housing Credit program during this time. We will also be pushing for our ongoing Housing Credit priorities, the enactment of which would contribute to economic recovery.

In the meantime, ACTION is also pursuing a parallel advocacy strategy for regulatory accommodations. ACTION co-chair NCSHA has sent a letter to the IRS that includes our programmatic deadline extension asks as well as several other Housing Credit accommodations.

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