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

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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

TAKE ACTION to protect unhoused folks during the COVID-19 outbreak

Written by admin on . Posted in Uncategorized

We applaud Congress for passing the Families First CoronaVirus Response Act, which will provide immediate paid sick leave and paid family leave to millions of people, expanded unemployment insurance, vital nutrition aid, more Medicaid funds for states, and free COVID-19 testing.

Image by Western Regional Advocacy Project

Image by Western Regional Advocacy Project

But they left out critical resources for people experiencing homelessness!!

Our unhoused neighbors are more likely to have underlying health conditions, use spaces with congregate settings (public transportation, shelters, soup kitchens), have already diminished life-expectancy, have limited ability to follow public health advice, or suffer from stigma and discrimination in accessing basic services. (Read more in the National Health Care for the Homeless Council‘s issue brief)

It is imperative that services, medical care, resources, and support for people experiencing homelessness is included in any further Federal Coronavirus response. 

We are all in this together – we must act now! 

We are asking for lawmakers to:

  1. Provide $15.5 billion specifically targeted to people who are currently homeless. This should include language that adds “medical respite care” services into allowable/prioritized uses for emergency CoC funding.  

  2. Cancel the 2020 NOFA: Direct HUD to automatically renew Continuum of Care Homeless Assistance Funding in 2020 to programs that were recently renewed through the 2019 renewal process, as currently allowed in the HEARTH Act, so long as the Continuum of Care Entity documents that a) there is a continuing demonstrated need for the project and b) that the project continues to comply with CoC program requirements.  Use the 2020 CoC NOFA process to competitively award only additionally appropriated funding for New Projects to meet the needs of those currently on the streets, in shelters, or the newly homeless.

  3. Require HUD to increase flexibility to allow communities to utilize CoC Homeless Assistance Funding to meet local needs and local priorities.

  4. Call for a moratorium on all homeless encampments sweeps during the pandemic. The CDC has released guidelines saying encampments should not be displaced unless housing is available

  5. Provide $50 Billion of new funding for expansion of Low Income Housing Tax Credits targeted to housing for homeless families and individuals, expansion of the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund, and expansion of Project Based Section 8 funding for permanent supportive housing and housing for families experiencing homelessness.

These demands are absolutely imperative to the safety, wellbeing, and care of people experiencing homelessness, and we cannot wait. Contact your Legislator below!

 

NCH Statement on Coronavirus Response

Written by admin on . Posted in Uncategorized

3/13/2020

As communities across the United States continue to respond and react to the growing Coronavirus (COVID 19) pandemic, the National Coalition for the Homeless today issued the following update to its members, supporters, policy makers, and people experiencing homelessness concerned about the public health crisis and its potential impact on people experiencing homelessness on the streets or in emergency shelters:

  1. It is important to recognize, and it cannot be overstated, that exposure to and infection by the Coronaviris is a community-wide problem that potentially affects all Americans, regardless of income and housing status.   However, people experiencing homelessness may be at greater risk of exposure and may be more vulnerable to the effects of the virus due to their homelessness – whether living on the streets, in encampments, or in crowded shelters.

  2. One of the most common recommendations of the CDC for limiting exposure to the virus – social distancing – is nearly impossible for those experiencing homelessness in most communities due to congregate emergency shelters and encampments those experiencing homelessness are forced to rely upon.  Additional housing options must be immediately deployed to lessen the risk of exposure and rapid community spread among the homeless population.

  3. Addressing the impact of the Coronaviris pandemic is a public health emergency that must be led by public health expects in our communities, states and at the Federal level through the Center for Disease Control.  Shelter and emergency service providers should not be called upon to divert limited resources needed to address the needs of the broader homeless population to address the Coronaviris impact within the homeless community.  Rather, public health responses must direct increased resources to meet the elevated and unique needs of those experiencing homelessness.

  4. Those who may be experiencing homelessness would not be in as great a risk of poor health outcomes, or spread of COVID-19, if they had access to safe, decent, affordable and accessible housing. We still have a lot of work to do to address the underlying income inequality and lack of low-cost housing that has perpetuated homelessness for decades.

  5. We must ensure that national, state and community-level public health planning efforts includes the homeless service agencies and those experiencing homelessness in the planning and responses.

  6. Public Health officials should provide adequate protective gear as needed, and include the safety homeless service workers and volunteers in their planning and implementation responses.

  7. Cities should provide hygiene facilities (port-a-potties, hand-washing stations) and trash pickup for residents of encampments – during and after any pandemic has passed.

  8. There should be a moratorium on encampment sweeps that displace already displaced households and that often cause the loss of personal property that includes medication and other life-sustaining items.

  9. All tests, treatment and quarantine locations should be offered without cost for all members of the community – housed or not, with or without health insurance.

  10. Each community should identify space that those who do not have a permanent home can access in case of quarantine. Any costs should come out of community-level public health resources.

  11. We must not divert limited funding for homeless services to be used to provide quarantine, testing or treatment. Homeless services are already woefully underfunded, and widespread homelessness is ALREADY a public health emergency!  Additional funding should be devoted by federal agencies to address the unique needs of those experiencing homelessness.

We further call upon Congress and the President to include in any emergency spending package to address the pandemic or the economic impact of such to include resources targeted to address the special needs of those experiencing homelessness, and those at risk of homelessness.  This should include a significant increase to emergency and homeless assistance funding through HUD, resources to prevent evictions due to the economic fallout, and increased public health and health care resources targeted to those experiencing homelessness.

We encourage those working with people experiencing homelessness, and those concerned about the impact of this pandemic on them, to utilize the following resources to develop appropriate outreach and treatment responses:

Coronavirus Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)

Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

 

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