CLPHA supports the nation’s largest and most innovative housing authorities by advocating for the resources and policies they need to solve local housing challenges and create communities of opportunity. We frequently champion our members' issues, needs, and successes on the Hill, at HUD, and in the media. In these arenas CLPHA also advocates for legislation and policies that help our members, and the public and affordable housing industry as a whole, strengthen neighborhoods and improve lives.
Click below for links to congressional testimonies, statements for the record, action alerts, comments to HUD and other federal agencies, and the latest information about CLPHA's multi-pronged housing advocacy.
Public Housing Authorities Need $8.5 Billion in Emergency COVID-19 Funds Plus Regulatory Relief
CLPHA members are working tirelessly, compassionately, and pragmatically to support low-income households. We urge Congress and HUD to do the same.
WASHINGTON (March 19, 2020) - The Council of Large Public Housing Authorities sent letters to Congressional leaders and U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson today formally requesting $5 billion for the public housing program and $3.5 billion for the housing choice voucher program in emergency supplemental funds and additional regulatory relief for public housing authorities as they work to protect residents and staff during the COVID-19 public health crisis. Sunia Zaterman, Executive Director of the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities, issued the following statement after submitting the requests to Congress and HUD:
"Low-income households and the elderly who are served by public and affordable housing have the most to lose during the current COVID-19 public health crisis because they are the most vulnerable to unemployment, lost income, and heartbreakingly, the virus itself.
"To ensure the health and safety of residents, and of staff, public housing authorities are taking unprecedented actions to follow public health protocols, while continuing to provide residents with services ranging from food deliveries to regular property repairs.
"The FY20 operating budget for public housing authorities is wholly inadequate to fund the enormous unforeseen cost of COVID-19 emergency expenses combined with estimated losses in tenant rent payments. CLPHA is requesting $8.5 billion from Congress in emergency supplemental funds and urging HUD to provide public housing authorities with the flexibility to respond to the changing situation as needed.
"Without a commitment from the federal government to support public and affordable housing operations during and after the COVID-19 emergency, millions of households could be left unprotected from the virus and face longer-term housing insecurity.
"CLPHA members are working tirelessly, compassionately, and pragmatically to support low-income households. We urge Congress and HUD to do the same."
About the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities
The Council of Large Public Housing Authorities is a national non-profit organization that works to preserve and improve public and affordable housing through advocacy, research, policy analysis and public education. CLPHA’s 70 members represent virtually every major metropolitan area in the country. Together they manage 40 percent of the nation’s public housing program; administer more than a quarter of the Housing Choice Voucher program; and operate a wide array of other housing programs. Learn more at clpha.org and on Twitter @CLPHA and follow @housing_is for news on CLPHA’s work to better intersect the housing field and other areas of critical importance such as health and education.
On March 12, CLPHA hosted a conference call featuring guests from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to discuss ways PHAs can prepare for, and respond to, potential COVID-19 outbreaks in their communities, including examples from member PHAs facing more advanced local situations. The call was open to CLPHA member PHA staff as well as our partners at the MTW Collaborative and their member PHAs. More than 115 people joined the call. The complete call summary and notes are posted to CLPHA.org/COVID19.
(You can listen to a recording of the call by dialing 719-457-0820 and entering Replay Passcode 588037227.)
On the call, we reviewed insights from our 3/9 call with PHA communications staff where we heard from Seattle Housing Authority and King County Housing Authority, who had each been working closely with the state and local health departments, developing internal policies to protect PHA staff safety and resident health (e.g. staff leave and teleworking policies), and identifying additional issues related to COVID-19 concerning PHAs (e.g. the need for potential regulatory relief for inspections to avoid putting inspectors or residents at work). A call summary and notes for the 3/9 call can be found on CLPHA.org/COVID19.
CDC Official Remarks and Q&A
CLPHA welcomed officials from the CDC’s National Community Intervention Task Force, 2019 Novel Coronavirus Response, to share important public health messaging and answer questions CLPHA posed about guidance of interest to PHAs.
- Importance of Local Health Departments: CDC emphasized that the most important thing PHAs can do at the outset is connecting with their local public health departments as they will have the most up-to-date, localized guidance for PHAs to follow as things develop. COVID-19 outbreaks vary by city/area, which is why local authorities should be considered the top authorities for reliable public health guidance.
- Guidance from CDC: CDC officials also provided a broad overview of the guidance available from the agency at this time, including proper handwashing protocols, public space cleaning, staff safety measures, and needed supplies. They encouraged PHAs to attend to all common/community spaces to ensure hand soap is full, garbage cans are empty, tissues are available, etc. Additionally, they encourage PHAs to consult guidance about sanitizing these spaces on a regular basis.
- Question about Age and Health Condition Risk Factors: We know that COVID-19 puts people of advanced age at higher risk for developing severe cases, but another risk factor is having a chronic health condition (including respiratory conditions like asthma and COPD). The CDC emphasized that these two risk factors are distinct: Someone can be at risk if they have certain health conditions even if they are not of advanced age. This is notable for PHAs as people living in HUD-assisted housing exhibit higher than usual prevalence of asthma (among all ages) and COPD (adults and elderly).
- Guidance for High-Density Senior Communities: Given that the elderly are at high risk of severe cases of COVID-19, CLPHA asked if CDC planned to release guidance specific to high-density senior communities about COVID-19. CDC reported that they were working on guidance for senior housing, which should be released within the next week. For now, they advise PHAs to follow existing guidance as this new document would be building upon foundational knowledge.
- Safety Equipment: Like other community providers, PHAs have been working to protect staff that interact with the general public. The CDC advised against “stockpiling” supplies of any kind and discouraged the use of face masks or gloves given their limited effectiveness with non-healthcare workforces. Gloves, for example, provide a false sense of security without usage protocols (i.e. doctors and nurses are trained to use and dispose of gloves to maximize safety).
PHA Response Efforts
In addition to the CDC’s remarks and Q&A, two CLPHA members shared examples of their current response efforts: The Housing Authority of the City of Saint Paul and Seattle Housing Authority. In addition to sharing their respective communications to staff and residents, they emphasized the pervading advice given on the 9/9 call that encouraged PHAs to follow health departments’ guidance. SHA offered some additional perspective about locations where the COVID-19 outbreak response has intensified. They noted that public health departments might be less available for direct collaboration as the COVID-19 situation intensifies. SHA is remaining in touch with public health officials through coordination calls and other means, but they said their level of engagement has changed since the beginning of the local response.
PHAs are starting to hear about confirmed cases of COVID-19 among their residents. They are being instructed to follow standard protocols to have those individuals self-quarantine in accordance with CDC guidance. The measures others in those buildings should take are the same as if they did not have any confirmed cases; the actions of the person with COVID-19 are the main variable to address in these scenarios. PHAs are actively working with residents and property management to address these situations.
Please continue to share any resources your agency has to share by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and be in touch with any questions you might have about COVID-19 that you would like us to help answer.
As part of our legislative response to COVID-19, CLPHA is seeking input on what forms of relief would be most beneficial to PHAs as they respond to the virus. Forms of relief might include, but are not limited to, suspension of REAC inspections, extension of reporting requirement deadlines, recertification delays, and extensions for any required public meetings. As we advocate for these changes, CLPHA would like to hear from members about the most urgent needs. Please join us on Monday, March 16 at 1:00 p.m. ET.
Member call on COVID-19 relief
Monday, March 16, 1:00 p.m. ET