So much in our lives and in the city’s future is uncertain, but one thing is clear: things are changing, and they are changing rapidly. In the span of just a few weeks, Congress has passed legislation that has far-reaching effects on all New Yorkers, and are considering further action. The House of Representatives recently passed the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, the fourth COVID-19 relief package.
With everything happening so fast, it can be hard to keep up. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most important aspects of the HEROES Act.
First things first: Please take a minute to email your senators urging them to pass the HEROES Act, and to continue support for housing stability and non-profit organizations.
The House recently passed a proposal for the HEROES Act. Now is the time for Senators to hear from us! Send a message to tell your Senators to support:
- The Housing Assistance Fund Act would provide $75 billion to boost foreclosure and eviction prevention efforts in all 50 states.
- The WORK NOW Act would provide $50 billion for the non-profit sector to scale much needed services and help unemployed individuals get back to work.
Email your senators today to ask for their support of these key bills and ask your network to do the same. It takes just a couple minutes, but it could change our country for years to come.
Now, onto the highlights!
The HEROES Act contains several of Habitat’s priorities, including expanded relief for homeowners, renters and non-profits. The HEROES Act is a positive first step to supporting low-income homeowners, the communities we serve, and non-profit organizations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Homeowner Protections in HEROES Act
The HEROES Act includes one of Habitat’s top requests: a Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF). The HAF would distribute $75 billion across all 50 states to help homeowners, particularly low-income homeowners, catch up on missed mortgage payments, as well as prevent delinquencies, defaults, foreclosures, and loss of utilities and Internet connections.
The bill also improves the forbearance process and clarifies the rights of homeowners, including giving homeowners the right to repay missed payments over time, as opposed to a large lump sum after forbearance ends. The bill also extends the foreclosure moratorium in the CARES Act, by prohibiting foreclosures for another six months after the bill’s enactment.
The HEROES Act ensures that homeowners in bankruptcy are eligible for COVID-19 related mortgage forbearance and other mortgage assistance. It also ensures that families who file for bankruptcy because of COVID-19-related income loss will not lose their homes.
The HEROES Act would protect and support renters across the country. The Act would institute a 12-month moratorium on non-payment evictions for virtually all rental housing, significantly broadening the eviction protections prescribed in the previous CARES Act. After the moratorium expires, landlords must give tenants a 30-day notice of eviction.
The Act’s most notable rental assistance provision is $100 billion in emergency rental assistance to help low-income renters with rent and utility costs. The Act also includes several other rental assistance provisions, such as:
- $4 billion for tenant-based rental assistance (TBRA)
- $750 million for project-based rental assistance
- $11.5 billion for emergency solutions grants to respond to outbreaks among people experiencing homelessness.
Non-Profit Organization Protections and Services
The HEROES Act makes several changes to support non-profits, including:
- increasing access for all non-profits to the SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Federal Reserve’s Main Street Lending program
- appropriating $10 billion to the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) grant program
- providing additional relief related to payroll taxes and unemployment insurance
- providing automatic forbearance upon request for non-profit organizations and small businesses that have experienced financial hardship due to COVID-19
The HEROES Act would appropriate $100 million for organizations that provide housing counseling assistance. It also includes $5 billion in supplemental funding for the Community Development Block Grant program.
Consumer and Unemployment Protections
The bill includes several provisions to protect consumers from negative credit reporting as a result of the economic impact of COVID-19, including:
- Suspension of negative credit reporting during the COVID-19 pandemic and any other declared major disasters. The Act also includes a permanent ban on reporting medical debt stemming from COVID-19 treatments.
- A temporary moratorium on consumer debt collection during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as reasonable forbearance and repayment options for consumers when payments resume following the moratorium.
The HEROES Act extends the $600 per week Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) to supplement state and local unemployment benefits through Jan. 31, 2021. The bill also includes extensions to other unemployment benefits provided in the previous COVID-related stimulus bills.
The bill includes an additional round of direct relief payments to individuals and families, like those provided through the CARES Act. This would provide $1,200 for an individual, $2,400 for couples filing jointly, and $1,200 for each dependent (no more than 3). The bill also makes individuals with Tax Identification Numbers, not just Social Security Numbers, eligible for economic impact payments with the provision retroactive to the enactment of the CARES Act.