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HEROES Bill Sets Stage for Next Legislative Package

Arlene Conn, PHADA Policy Analyst

On May 15, the House of Representatives passed a $3 trillion COVID-19 relief package, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) leading the way to a 208-199 vote, with only one Republican, Rep. Peter King of New York, supporting the legislation. The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act (H.R. 6800) is the fifth appropriations bill to address the COVID-19 crisis and the largest to date, with $3 trillion in spending for federal programs, public health, and state and local governments.

 

Operating Fund

The HEROES Act contains important provisions that PHADA has advocated for to Congress for the past several months, including $2 billion in public housing operating funds. The bill states that operating funds “…may be used to cover or reimburse allowable costs incurred to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus regardless of the date on which such costs were incurred.”

Related to this issue and the previous passage of the CARES Act, PHADA challenged HUD on its more limited interpretation that funds approved by Congress could only be used to cover costs incurred after May 1. PHADA’s letter to Congress warned,

If HUD’s interpretation stands uncorrected, a substantial set of COVID-19 related expenses may have to be supported through standard fiscal year 2020 appropriations, exactly what CARES Act supplemental appropriations were designed to avoid.

HUD at least reversed this previous determination and now recognizes that costs incurred on or after March 27 are covered. PHADA will continue to push HUD to adhere to Congressional intent.

 

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