COVID-19 Advocacy and the President's Executive Orders
FROM GREGORY SCOTT BROWN SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS, NAA
As you know by now, on August 8, President Trump signed four executive actions directing federal agencies to provide additional relief to those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. These actions focused on student loans, payroll taxes, unemployment benefits and housing. Importantly, the President’s executive order on housing highlights the need for robust financial assistance to stabilize renters who are experiencing hardship. The order does not, on its own, extend the CARES Act eviction moratorium.
The “Executive Order on Fighting the Spread of COVID-19 by Providing Assistance to Renters and Homeowners” does the following:
- Directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to consider whether any measures temporarily halting residential evictions of any renters for failure to pay rent are reasonably necessary to prevent the further spread of COVID-19;
- Urges the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to identify available federal funds to provide temporary financial assistance to renters and homeowners who, as a result of COVID-19, are struggling to meet their rental or mortgage obligations;
- Further encourages HUD to take action to promote the ability of renters and homeowners to avoid eviction or foreclosure resulting from financial hardships caused by COVID-19, including encouraging and providing assistance to public housing authorities, affordable housing owners, housing providers, and recipients of federal grant funds to minimize evictions and foreclosures; and
- Orders the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), in consultation with Treasury, to review all existing authorities and resources that may be used to prevent evictions and foreclosures resulting from hardships caused by COVID-19.
Remember that although the CARES Act federal eviction moratorium has expired, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and FHFA’s foreclosure and eviction moratoria for single-family homes in the agencies’ purview remain in effect until August 31. FHAand FHFA’s tenant protection measures that apply to multifamily borrowers in forbearance also remains effective. Additionally, HUD announced $472 million for public housing authorities (PHAs) to support current participants of voucher programs.
The President also emphasized the importance of extending supplemental unemployment benefits in a second order. It has been the Administration and Congress’ efforts thus far to provide financial assistance to households and businesses affected by COVID-19 that have prevented widespread evictions, kept renters stably housed and preserved the viability of the rental housing industry. Whether in the form of enhanced unemployment benefits or rental assistance, these efforts, combined with the payment plans and other creative solutions agreed to by housing providers and residents, have been essential.
As the federal agencies referenced in these executive orders implement their directives, NAA and our coalition partners are working to ensure that they understand the perspective of rental housing providers. NAA also continues to urge the Administration and Congress to fix the outstanding issues from the CARES Act eviction moratorium including several technical concerns such as the need for a clear sunset date for the 30-day notice to vacate requirement (see the attached primer for more on this issue). And, we press Representatives, Senators and the Administration for responsible housing policies, in light of COVID-19, that balance the needs of rental housing owners and operators, their employees and residents. This means robust rental assistance to ensure residents can stay in their homes, housing providers can continue to operate effectively and the overall housing system remains stable. NAA will keep the industry abreast of any new guidance or rules issued by federal agencies as a result of President Trump’s executive actions.
My thanks to all of you who have supported our advocacy efforts since the beginning of the pandemic. In our most recent three-week grassroots call-to-action alone almost 22,000 letters were sent to Capital Hill from housing providers all around the country. Based on the conversation amongst policymakers from both sides of the aisle, our message is getting through. Still, more work will have to be done in order for us to be successful.