1 1 (June 16, 2020)

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Federal Housing Policy Responses

to COVID-19



June 16, 2020
The COVID- 19 global pandemic and resulting economic recession presents many housing challenges,
ranging from public health concerns about large populations of unsheltered homeless individuals to the
impact of rising unemployment on housing stability. Housing in the United States is primarily a private
market function regulated at the state and local level, and states and local governments have implemented
a variety of housing policy responses to the pandemic. However, there has been demand for federal action
to supplement and support those efforts. In response, the federal government increased its funding for
housing programs and made policy changes to protect renters and homeowners and support other housing
market participants. In addition to housing-specific interventions, policies such as one-tirme relief
payments to individuals, federal increases to Unemployment Insurance ( U), and some fiscal relief to
states and localities may be used directly or indirectly for housing needs.
Despite these actions, significant housing challenges remain. For example, according to Census data,
during the last full week of May 18% of renters and 12% of owners reported having not made the current
month's housing payment, with larger shares (33% and 16%) expecting not to pay the following month.
Thus, there have been calls for further federal action to address outstanding housing challenges related to
homelessness, the stability of renters and owners, the economic health of landlords and lenders, and the
overall health of housing markets. Numerous bills have been introduced to provide additional resources or
make other housing policy changes, including the HEROES Act, which recently passed the House.

Increased Funding for Housing Programs

The CARES Act appropriated an additional $12.4 billion for HUID housing programs in FY2020. Some
funds are to maintain existing rental assistance-including through the public housing, Housing Choice
Voucher, and project-based Section 8 programs-as tenant income decreases lead to program cost
increases. Other funds-such as for Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) and Community Development
Block Grants (CDBG)-are additional resources to address conditions created by the pandemic. ESG
funds are meant to help communities address homelessness through shelter and rental assistance during
the pandemic, while CDBG funds can be used for a Variety Of purposes to help communities address and
recover from the effects of COVID-19.


                                                              Congressional Re search Service
                                                                https://crsreports.congress.gov
                                                                                   INI 1424

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