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CARES Act: What’s in it, and what do we still need?

Written by admin on . Posted in Uncategorized

NCH members sent over 1,600 letters to Congress urging greater relief and stimulus for homeless and at-risk communities. Thanks in part to this action, the Federal government has now enacted the third stimulus package for COVID-19, known as the CARES Act. While this is an important step in providing relief to people who are economically vulnerable, there is still much more needed to keep our communities healthy, housed, and safe. Notably missing were increases in food assistance, adequate health and housing support for Americans losing their jobs, and enough support to house our vulnerable homeless neighbors.

The CARES Act included $4 billion for Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG). This money can be used for shelter for short term and medium term housing assistance such as Rapid Rehousing. Usually with ESG grants there is a state matching component, but this component has been waved for purposes of this emergency funding. Of the total, $2 billion will be released as soon as possible under the pre-existing formula. The last $2 billion will be released based off of community needs, an assessment of which will be forthcoming.

Also included is $5 billion in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG). Similar to the ESG funding this money will be distributed in waves. There will be $2 billion released to states and communities based off of the fiscal year 2020 formula. One billion will be released to states and another $2 billion will be released to states and local governments based on risk and housing disruptions.

Further funding:

  • $1.25 Billion in tenant based rental assistance
  • $1 billion for Project Based Rental Assistance (PBRA)
  • $300 million in tribal housing grants
  • $120 million for 202, 811, and HOPWA housing
  • 2.5 million for fair housing
  • $30 billion in Disaster Relief Funds
  • $150 Billion in flexible funds for states and municipalities that can be used for rental assistance and other community development needs
  • $3 billion for rental assistance for Public Housing Authorities.

Also included in this bill is a 120 day moratorium on evictions. However, this moratorium only covers renters living in public housing or project-based rental assistance programs. The majority of renters renting from private landlords would not be covered. The moratorium on evictions only applies to new filings of evictions. This means if you are already scheduled to be evicted this moratorium will not protect you. Also this law only protects people who have not paid rent. All other forms of evictions are not included.

This is a great first step but we need much more to protect our most vulnerable. Here are the policy asks the National Coalition for the Homeless is calling for:

  • Cancel the FY2020 COC NOFA
  • Emergency rental assistance for all tenants
  • Ensure moratoria on evictions do not lead to mass evictions after the emergency has passed
  • Extend health care for uninsured/underinsured
  • Extend funding for hotel/motel space after the emergency passes
  • Facilitate transfer of unused/vacant housing to families who are unhoused
  • Increase food assistance through the SNAP program

YOUR ACTION IS STILL NEEDED!

 Thank you all for your great work during this difficult time. Stay safe.

Related issue areas:
Fixing Unemployment Insurance
Disaster Loans for Small Businesses and Nonprofits