Massive COVID-19 Relief Bill to Help Renters and Workers

Massive COVID-19 Relief Bill to Help Renters and Workers

Loss of jobs and income from the COVID-19 pandemic has put many people around the country, millions by the estimate of some experts, behind on their rent payments.

Thankfully, there are positive developments that will provide relief for many of these families nationwide. As covered ‘in-depth’ by an article on the Affordable Housing Finance site, Congress has passed a bill that allocates $1.4 trillion in government funding toward the relief of struggling U.S. families.

What’s exciting about the legislation is that:

  • It is large: $900 billion in COVID-19 relief and $1.4 trillion in government funding for 2021.
  • It provides help for immediate problems and also funding for long-term solutions to the lack of affordable housing.
  • It helps families who rent as well as property developers who build affordable housing.

Low Income Housing Tax Credits Secured at a Higher Rate

The ‘biggest victory’ for affordable housing in the bill is a ‘long-term’ solution – financial incentives for builders. Access to Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) is a major incentive for developers of affordable housing. The recently passed legislation permanently sets the rate of bonds that fund these tax credits at 4%. The result is that more federal funds will be dedicated toward the development of affordable housing, and housing developers can be secure in knowing these financial incentives will be available to them long-term. It is a huge victory for affordable housing!

More Immediate Relief for Renters

A National Eviction moratorium is still active nationwide, and the same legislation mentioned above also extended the moratorium through at least the end of January. In many states (like California), the moratorium will be extended after the national moratorium expires, and some cities (like Los Angeles) will extend the moratorium even after the state moratorium order expires.

The bill also provides $25 billion in rental assistance, and most people have already received their $600 in direct stimulus checks. There is also $300 per week in enhanced unemployment benefits through March.

Small Business Loan Program Extended

Last year, the small business “Paycheck Protection Program” (PPP) loans were lauded for helping tens of thousands of small businesses stay open in every state. This recent bill allocates an additional $284 billion for a second round of forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. There is preference given for community services and minority-owned businesses to get funding.

FFAH Bringing Small Business Relief to Bend Businesses via The Change Reaction

We know that many of our local businesses have struggled to qualify for the PPP loans. Do you know of a small business that is struggling?  We want to help!

We designed our Small Business Relief fund to help the “Main Streets” of Bend.  Before COVID-19, our best and most treasured moments happened in our neighborhood “Mom and Pop” stores and restaurants. When we witnessed the heartbreak of many local businesses and their inability to access SBA loans, we created The Change Reaction.

Today, landlords, lenders, consumers, politicians, and generous philanthropists have come together to bring relief to small businesses in Bend. The Change Reaction awards Small Business Relief Funds as interest-free loans to “Main Street” businesses devastated by the pandemic. Visit our page about The Change Reaction to find out more, get involved, or apply for a loan.

More Help is Needed and Hopefully Coming

While celebrating the recently passed a bill, influential figures urge that more must be done.  David Dworkin, CEO of the National Housing Conference, said “More will be needed to prevent housing insecurity for millions of low- and moderate-income households who are managing the economic fallout of the pandemic.”

Diane Yentel, CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, added “Twenty-five billion in rental assistance is not enough to meet the estimated $70 billion in accrued back rent or the ongoing need for rental assistance to keep families stably housed.”

American Rescue Plan

There have been positive signs of more financial help on the way. On Thursday, President-elect Joe Biden released his American Rescue Plan, which will provide 1.9 trillion in relief and includes an $30 billion for rent and utility relief. Congress would have to approve the spending still.  The President-elect has repeatedly stated that he is fighting for an additional $1400 stimulus payment for every American to bring the total payment to $2000 when added to the recent $600 payment.

— FFAH Staff

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