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House Passes $3 Trillion COVID-19 Legislation

Seth Embry, PHADA Policy Analyst

On May 15, the House of Representatives passed the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act. The bill, if enacted, would be the largest legislative response from Congress to the COVID-19 emergency and contains $3 trillion in stimulus and emergency spending for federal programs, public health, and to support state and local governments.

The HEROES Act contains important provisions that PHADA has requested from Congressional leadership. The bill would provide $2.5 billion in additional voucher assistance funds to cover shortfalls, $500 million in voucher administrative fees, $2 billion in public housing operating funds, and $750 million for the Project-Based Rental Assistance program. The bill also addresses issues that PHADA and other groups have identified, including the following:

  • Allows funding included in both the HEROES Act and CARES Act to be used to cover expenses in connection with preparing and planning to respond to COVID-19 regardless of when the expenditure occurred.
  • Funds are subject to the same conditions and waiver authority from the CARES Act.
  • Extends the expenditure deadline for the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative to September 30, 2021.

The bill contains new emergency rental assistance programs. The largest is a $100 billion appropriation for the Emergency Solutions Grant for short and medium-term assistance for renters to avoid homelessness avoid eviction due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. That and several other additional HUD provisions are included in the Committee’s Section by Section Summary.

There is also $1 billion for an emergency voucher assistance program for individuals that are homeless, at risk of homelessness, or fleeing domestic violence. The HEROES Act requires HUD to develop a new formula by which the emergency vouchers will be allocated which must include need, risk of transmission of coronavirus, rates of homelessness and economic conditions. Vouchers provided to families under this program cannot be reissued to new families and HUD will recapture and reallocate funds not used in a timely manner. The PHADA staff is working to shape and improve this proposal as the bill moves forward.

The Trump Administration and Senate leaders have expressed reservations about the cost and timing of the House bill. Please see the President’s Forum below for the latest news in Washington on the “lay of the land” surrounding the legislation.