President Signs Executive Order on Assistance to Renters and Homeowners

On August 8, President Trump signed an executive order titled “Executive Order on Fighting the Spread of COIVD-19 by Providing Assistance to Renters and Homeowners.” This Executive Order (EO) was signed after the negotiations on a fourth COVID-19 legislative relief package broke down.

The EO states, “[i]t is the policy of the United States to minimize, to the greatest extent possible, residential evictions and foreclosures during the ongoing COVID-19 national emergency.” Specifically it directs the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) “to promote the ability of renters and homeowners to avoid eviction or foreclosure” through actions that “may include encouraging and providing assistance to public housing authorities, affordable housing owners, landlords, and recipients of Federal grant funds in minimizing evictions and foreclosures.” The agencies of HUD and Treasury are also directed to “identify any and all available Federal funds to provide temporary financial assistance to renters and homeowners.” Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “shall consider whether any measures temporarily halting residential evictions . . . are reasonably necessary to prevent further spread of COVID-19.”

This Executive Order, in and of itself, does not specifically extend nor create an eviction moratorium nor does it create a new rental or homeowner assistance program. This Executive Order instructs the executive branch of government – specifically Health and Human Services; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Treasury; Housing and Urban Development; and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) – to assess their current resources and tools related to renters and homeowners affected by COVID-19.

NAHRO continues to encourage Public Housing Authorities (PHAs), Section 8 landlords, and tenants to work together to minimize the financial impact of COVID-19. Tenants should contact their PHA notifying them of any reduction of income due to the pandemic. Landlords and PHAs should reach out and coordinate with tenants concerning unpaid rent. Best practices in preventing evictions include repayment agreements, retroactive recertifications and proactive communication with tenants.

Below are links to HUD and NAHRO eviction prevention resources:

Our advocacy must continue to ensure adequate resources that support your programs and provides rent relief for unassisted families. Use the NAHRO Advocacy Action Alert Center to send letters to your members of Congress and the Administration and let them know the critical role quality house and rental assistance plays as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

Homeland Security’s Public Charge Rule Implementation Stopped!

On July 29, 2020, Judge George B. Daniels of the U.S District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a preliminary injunction and temporary stay of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Public Charge rule. Judge Daniels’ order provides that DHS and U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) can not enforce, apply, implement, or treat as effective the Public Charge rule as long as “there is a declared national health emergency in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.”

The preliminary injunction and temporary stay applies nationwide as Judge Daniels wrote, “Each infected individual that travels to Governmental Plaintiffs’ jurisdiction [States of New York, Connecticut, and Vermont; and City of New York] risks undoing crucial progress made in combating this disease. Discouraging noncitizens nationwide from obtaining necessary treatment and care certainly undermines those efforts. Issuing geographically limited relief would not meaningfully abate the public health risk, especially when applied to a population that represents a significant portion of essential workers who continue to work outside of their homes ans interact with the public at large.”

The Public Charge rule, that defined public charge to include individuals receiving federal housing benefits, took effect February 24, 2020; after previous injunctions and stays were lifted by the U.S. Supreme Court. It is anticipated that Judge Daniels’ preliminary injunction and temporary stay order will also be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The July 29, 2020 order can be view here. NAHRO’s Public Charge One-Pager provides additional information on the DHS Public Charge rule. NAHRO will continue to follow the implementation of DHS’s Public Charge rule and share additional information as we receive it.

This Wednesday: NAHRO Legislator of the Year Todd Young Kicks off August Advocacy Campaign

This Wednesday at 2pm eastern time, NAHRO is hosting a complimentary webinar awarding NAHRO’s Co-Legislator of the Year and kicking off NAHRO’s August Advocacy Campaign.

NAHRO has an ambitious goal this August – send 8,501 letters to Capitol Hill during the upcoming Congressional August recess. NAHRO Legislator of the Year Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) will join NAHRO to receive his award and help us kick off our August advocacy campaign.

NAHRO Director of Congressional Relations Tess Hembree will also lead a conversation with members of the Legislative Network on their advocacy successes and how they plan to advocate for housing and community development this summer.

Don’t miss this critical conversation on how you can have your voice heard by lawmakers this summer.

Click here to register!

Final AFFH Rule Released

Late last week, HUD published on its website a final rule titled “Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice.” This rule implements the Fair Housing Act’s duty to affirmatively further fair housing (AFFH). Although the rule has not yet been published in the Federal Register, it will go into effect 30 days after its official publication.

Continue reading

NAHRO’s New Housing Proposals Focus on the Future

The nation’s public housing agencies and community development agencies have been housing our nation’s families and creating vibrant, stable communities for decades. And they’re continuing to do this vital work of providing shelter, creating opportunity, and addressing inequities during a pandemic that’s straining both local and national resources.

But even as we continue to cope with the fallout of COVID-19, we must also work on solutions for both current and future housing needs. We need new housing construction, more resources for existing housing programs, and flexibilities that prioritize progress over paperwork. NAHRO’s What Happens Next: Housing Beyond the Pandemic provides funding and policy proposals that will:

  • Increase housing supply and improve affordability
  • Preserve existing affordable housing
  • Stabilize families, and
  • Prioritize progress over paperwork.

The paper is available here.

HUD Reports Worst Case Housing Needs Decreased in 2017

HUD has released the seventeenth edition of Worst Case Housing Needs: 2019 Report to Congress, which measures various demographic and economic trends among very low-income (VLI) renter households with “worst-case” housing needs, who do not receive government assistance and spend more than 50 percent of their income on rent, live in inadequate housing, or both. Very low-income renters earn less than half of the Area Median Income (AMI).  

In 2017, 7.7 million households had wors- case needs, representing 6.3 percent of all U.S. households. This total has decreased 7 percent from 8.3 million in 2015, which the report attributes the decline to rising income and other economic factors lifting households out of poverty. However, the report notes that the affordable housing shortage has undermined those gains and worsened housing security for renters who remain low-income. The number of households with worst case needs also remains far above pre-recession levels and 30 percent higher than the 2007 estimate of 5.9 million households.  

Other report highlights include:  

  • Nationally, 47.2 percent of VLI households had worst case needs in 2017. Ninety-five percent of worst-case households reporting having severe rent burdens only. Of the remaining 5 percent, half reported inadequate housing, and half reported both.  
  • The number of households with worst-case needs declined between 2015 and 2017 across all racial and ethnic groups. Nonwhite households accounted for 52.9 percent of all worst-case needs, but non-Hispanic white households have the largest share among ethnic groups with 47.1 percent.  
  • The number of VLI households with children decreased by 763,000 over the two years due to rising incomes. However, many more families would exhibit worst case needs without housing assistance.  
  • Worst case needs were more prevalent in the Southern and Western states and in suburban areas, where relatively fewer VLI households receive government assistance. Less than a third of VLI householders were able to avoid severe housing problems without government assistance.  

The affordable housing shortage and strong demand from renters has intensified competition for available units, resulting in inefficient allocation: more than a third of units affordable to VLI households are instead occupied by higher-income households. While overall rental stock has grown slowly since 2015 and there is a surplus among higher-income renters, the number of affordable units declined four percent in that same period, outpacing the decline in worst case needs. In 2017, there were fewer than 60 affordable units available per 100 VLI renters, and only 35 units per 100 Extremely Low Income (ELI) renters, who make less than 30 percent of the AMI.  

As the number of unassisted VLI households dropped, the proportion of such households with worst-case needs increased, suggesting intensifying need among those who remain unassisted driven mainly by the affordable housing shortage. Furthermore, income gains have been offset by rising rents, and even with government assistance many VLI households have difficulty finding adequate and affordable housing. HUD points to the need to increase access to affordable housing by reducing regulatory barriers to development and recruiting more landlords to participate in voucher programs.  

Wednesday Webinar: Show Your Agency’s Excellence With Accreditation! Tomorrow at 2pm ET

Join us tomorrow, July 1, 2020 at 2pm eastern time for NAHRO’s Wednesday Webinar to get caught up on the latest assessment standards! Accreditation is a very effective way to demonstrate your agency’s excellence to the community and other stakeholders. Join special guests from the Affordable Housing Accreditation Board and accredited housing agencies as they discuss the benefits of AHAB accreditation and share stories about the accreditation process for their organizations. Also learn about the eight industry-adopted management standards and how accreditation can be used to enhance staff morale and public trust, and to reduce inefficiencies.

Our panelists include:

• Diana McWilliams, CEO, Affordable Housing Accreditation Board

• Coy Maienza, Director of Accreditation, Affordable Housing Accreditation Board

• Amy Wright, Director of Administration, Keene Housing, New Hampshire

• Duane Leonard, Executive Director, Housing Authority of Snohomish County, Washington

• Sarah Max, Executive Assistant & Accreditation Coordinator, Housing Authority of Snohomish County, Washington

• Maria Zissimos, Chief Counsel and Chief Operating Officer, Accreditation Coordinator, Chester Housing Authority, Pennsylvania

Register Here!

Congress Holds Hearings on Oversight and Rental Assistance

On June 9, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs held a committee hearing on the oversight of housing regulators. The two witnesses at the hearing were Secretary Ben Carson of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Director Mark Calabria of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).    

Secretary Carson shared that HUD is working to meet all statutory requirements related to the distribution of CARES Act funds. Of the $12.4 billion that HUD received from the CARES Act, $9.1 billion has already been allocated. The remaining CDBG funds will be allocated by October 1st and the remaining ESG fund allocations were announced on the same day as the hearing. Regarding rent payments, Secretary Carson urged HUD-assisted renters to recertify their incomes with their local PHAs if they need lower rent payments due to COVID-19.   

A few Senators expressed their opinion that Americans need expanded rental assistance and unemployment benefits. Secretary Carson did not comment on any plans for future housing-related COVID-19 funding, other than to express that HUD will closely monitor the situation.   

This hearing was followed by a June 10 hearing held by the House Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development, and Insurance which featured four witnesses speaking about the impact COVID-19 will have on evictions and rental assistance.  

Cashuana Hill, the Executive Director of the Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center, spoke of the role systemic racism plays in housing segregation, as well as the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on black and Latino workers. She called for rental assistance programs to consider equity concerns and reduce housing discrimination.  

Mike Kringsella, the Executive Director of Up for Growth, claimed that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated a pre-existing housing shortage of roughly 7.3 million units, and urged Congress to provide additional renter assistance.  

Ann Oliva, a Visiting Senior Fellow from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, linked housing availability to public health and spoke of the importance a stable housing situation can play in helping people protect themselves from COVID-19. 

Jennty Schuetz, a Fellow from the Brookings Institute, noted that the federal government plays a smaller role in rental housing regulation than in the mortgage market – rental housing oversight is instead left to states, resulting in a patchwork of regulations. She added that an eviction moratorium is not a long-term solution, as owed rent builds up over time and small-scale landlords forgo revenue.  

The Subcommittee’s questions centered around possible funding mechanisms to disburse rental assistance, how to best promote racial equity in the disaster response, and how to help small landlords navigate loss of income and maintenance demand during the pandemic. 

NAHRO continues to advocate for affordable housing funding and effective, community-based policy solutions. Learn about NAHRO’s 2020 Legislative and Regulatory Agenda and more about NAHRO advocacy at www.nahro.org/advocacy.  

Chairwoman Maxine Waters joins NAHRO’s Managing During COVID-19: Congressional Response webinar: Tomorrow at 12noon eastern

Tomorrow, Tuesday, June 2, 2020 at 12noon eastern time NAHRO is hosting a webinar: Managing During COVID-19: Congressional Response.

Join us for a very special conversation with Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Cali.), Chairwoman of the Financial Services Committee. Congresswoman Waters has been a dedicated advocate for affordable housing throughout her entire career, a priority that has taken center stage during the COVID-19 crisis. For this reason, NAHRO leadership will honor her with our Legislator of the Year award.

Help NAHRO thank the Congresswoman for the CARES Act and for her commitment to affordable housing and community development programs!

Register for tomorrow’s webinar: Managing During COVID-19: Congressional Response!

COVID-19 CDBG Eviction Moratorium Q&A Released

Earlier today, HUD released a Q&A to address questions concerning the eviction moratorium established by the CARES Act. Section 4024 of the Act imposes a 120-day moratorium on evictions, ending July 24, 2020. The moratorium extends to units in projects receiving funding from Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), Neighborhood Stabilization Programs (NSP) or Disaster Recovery.  

The Q&A clarifies which units are covered by the eviction moratorium, and which fees landlords may charge tenants for accrued costs after the moratorium ends. The full Q&A can be found here. For additional guidance, please visit the CDBG COVID-19 Resources page.  

NAHRO provides additional COVID-19 resources at www.NAHRO.org/coronavirus.