In the beginning of this month, HHS and the CDC enacted an unprecedented, nationwide eviction moratorium to help mitigate against the further spread of Covid-19. The CDC’s emergency health order protects qualifying renters from eviction for nonpayment of rent through December 31, 2020. For renters to receive protections offered through the order they must submit a form to their landlord or property owner affirming that they meet the set criteria. Under penalty of perjury, the tenant must verify that:
They made best efforts to get available government assistance for rent or housing;
They either qualified for an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check) under the CARES Act, or expect to earn no more than $99,000 for an individual or $198,000 for joint filers in calendar year 2020;
They are unable to pay the full rent or payment due to substantial loss of household income, loss of hours of work or wages, or large medical expenses;
They will continue best efforts to make timely partial payments that are close to what their earnings permit; and
The eviction would likely cause them to become homeless or require them to move into and live in close quarters or a shared living setting.
This order does not offer rent forgiveness, meaning tenants will still be required to pay back rent once the order expires at the end of the year. The order also does not prohibit landlords or property owners from charging late fees while the temporary moratorium is in place.
It is imperative for Congress and the administration to now work quickly to enact bipartisan legislation that provides direct rental assistance to tenants so that affordable housing providers are able to continue paying their bills.
On August 27, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced an extension of its foreclosure and eviction moratorium through December 31, 2020. In Mortgagee Letter 2020-27, the FHA states that the extension to the moratorium on foreclosure applies to FHA-insured Single-Family mortgages and suspends the initiation of foreclosures and foreclosures in process for these mortgages, excluding vacant or abandoned properties. The letter also notes that evictions of persons from properties with FHA-insured Single-Family mortgages are also suspended through December 31, 2020, except for actions to evict occupants of legally vacant or abandoned properties. In response to the FHA’s announcement, Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee Maxine Waters (D-CA-43) released a statement on August 27, in which she called for enacting federal protections and assistance that are focused on impacted renters who are not protected by the moratorium and remain at risk of eviction.
Furthermore, on August 27, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) will extend their respective moratoriums on foreclosures and real estate owned (REO) evictions through December 31, 2020. The foreclosure moratorium applies to Enterprise-backed, single-family mortgages, and the moratorium on REO evictions applies to properties that have been acquired by an Enterprise through foreclosure or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure transactions. On August 28, the USDA extended the suspension of foreclosures and related evictions for borrowers with USDA single family housing Direct and Guaranteed loans, excluding vacant or abandoned dwellings, through the end of the year. On August 24, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) extended its foreclosure and eviction moratoriums for properties with VA-guaranteed loans through December 31, 2020.
Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control took the extraordinary and unprecedented action of issuing a national moratorium on most evictions for nonpayment of rent. The action is long overdue, badly needed and will provide essential protection to millions of renters. The very least the federal government ought to do during a global pandemic is assure each of us that we won’t lose our homes in the midst of it: the administration’s action would do just that and will provide relief from a growing threat of eviction for millions of anxious families. The moratorium takes effect on September 4.
While an eviction moratorium during the pandemic is essential, it is a half-measure that delays but does not prevent evictions. Congress and the White House must get back to work on negotiations to enact a COVID-19 relief bill with at least $100 billion in emergency rental assistance. Together with a national eviction moratorium, this assistance would keep renters stably housed and small landlords able to pay their bills and maintain their properties during the pandemic.
The Centers for Disease Control and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced yesterday an order to temporarily halt evictions to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. Citing the historic threat to public health, the Trump administration declared that an eviction moratorium would help ensure that people are able to practice social distancing and comply with stay-at-home orders. The announcement cites the increased risk of spreading coronavirus when people are evicted from their home or experience homelessness. The order takes effect on September 4.
To be covered under this action, renters must sign and provide to their landlord a declaration that they (1) have used their best efforts to obtain rental assistance; (2) expect to earn no more than $99,000 in 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return), was not required to report income in 2019 to the IRS, or received an Economic Impact Payment under the CARES Act; (3) are unable to pay the full rent or make a full rent payment due to loss of income, loss of work hours, or extraordinary medical costs; (4) are using best efforts to make partial rent payments; and (5) an eviction would result in homelessness or force them to double or triple up with other households. The eviction moratorium lasts through December 31, 2020.
The eviction moratorium does not provide emergency rental assistance resources to cover back rent, utilities, or fees. For this reason, the moratorium only postpones evictions rather than preventing them.
*Note: There will be no September ACTION Campaign monthly call this week, as Congress is out for the August recess. Housing Credit legislative advocacy updates are detailed below. Monthly calls will continue in October.
ACTION Legislative Update
Negotiations between Congressional leadership and the Administration for the next Covid-19 response package have broken down as members of Congress returned home for the August recess. While the House passed a broad response bill, the $3 plus trillion HEROES Act, in May, the Senate did not take it up. In late July, Senate Republicans released a series of bills totaling approximately $1 trillion that together constitute the Republicans’ version of the Covid-19 relief bill, the HEALS Act.
While neither the House nor Senate version of the legislation included ACTION’s Housing Credit priorities, the HEROES Act included numerous other emergency housing provisions, while the HEALS Act included minimal housing assistance. Before negotiations came to a standstill, House Speaker Pelosi suggested that Democrats and Republicans consider approximately $2 trillion in funding, essentially splitting the difference; however, Administration negotiators rejected the proposal. Congress then left for the August recess to campaign without a deal in place.
The Senate is set to return from recess on September 9 and the House on September 15. It is unlikely that a response package will come together until after both chambers return, though some discussions between key negotiators could resume sooner than that. When negotiations do pick back up, it remains unclear whether there will be stand-alone Covid-19 legislation or if a response package will ride a likely continuing resolution if Congress is unable to pass its appropriations bills by the start of the new fiscal year on October 1.
An August 4 op-ed in Smart Cities Dive by David Rowe, executive vice president for CAMBA/CAMBA Housing Ventures, “Housing is healthcare. It’s time for Congress to shore up LIHTC,” argues that creating affordable housing is vital for the nationwide health response to the Covid-19 pandemic and calls for Congress to enact a minimum 4 percent Housing Credit rate to finance critical affordable housing development.
Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, the Oklahoma Housing Conference has been rescheduled to May 24, 25 & 26, 2021. Please review additional details about the Fair Housing Training, Current Registrations, Hotel Reservations and more HERE. Registration is still open. Register Now.
HUD has published a new final rule, Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice, to replace the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule and the 1994 Analysis of Impediments (AI) requirements. The new rule terminates the 2015 AFFH rule and concludes that a HUD grantee’s AFFH certification “will be deemed acceptable if the grantee has taken some active steps to promote fair housing” without any meaningful guidance as to what those standards are or how they would be evaluated. Enterprise strongly opposes the new rule and the termination of the AFFH rule. Enterprise, National Housing Trust (NHT), Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF), Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future (SAHF), and Housing Partnership Network (HPN) released a joint statement opposing HUD’s termination of the 2015 AFFH rule.
Enterprise Senior Director for Public Policy Sarah Brundage notes that “the whole purpose of the [2015 AFFH] rule was to finally provide meaningful guidance for how communities should be advancing fair housing decades after the passage of the Fair Housing Act.” Brundage also points out that HUD’s new rule is a “big step backward for our federal government’s commitment toward progress” in addressing racial segregation in housing.
On July 29, AFFH gained increased attention after President Trump used Twitter to frame the termination of the AFFH rule as a relief for suburbs who were “bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing built in [their] neighborhood,” and made incorrect assertions that low-income housing lowers property values and increases neighborhood crime. Brundage addresses those debunked claims and how that narrative is founded in racism and poverty stereotyping in an Enterprise blog post titled “Correcting the Record on Fair Housing, Property Values, and Crime.”
The final rule met opposition from some lawmakers due to similar criticisms. On July 27, Chair of the House Financial Services Committee Maxine Waters (D-CA-43), Chair of the House Committee on the Judiciary Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10), and Chair of the House Financial Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development and Insurance William Lacy Clay, Jr. (D-MO-1) issued a joint statement criticizing the Trump Administration’s rollback of the AFFH rule during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the associated housing crisis and declared that the lawmakers would “be taking legislative action to reinstate this critical rule.” On Friday, the House passed a Fiscal Year 2021 House Transportation-HUD (THUD) spending bill that included an amendment introduced by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY-14) that would rescind the new rule.