Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Democratic Leader Schumer, Chairman Shelby, and Vice Chairman Leahy:
On behalf of the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities (CLPHA), I am writing to express our support and to urge Senate passage of the recent House-passed HR 6800, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (“HEROES Act”), particularly provisions in the legislation pertaining to housing and community development policies and funding.
As you consider another much-needed economic relief and stimulus legislative package to provide assistance and relief to states, cities, local jurisdictions, medical front-line workers, first responders, unemployed persons, consumers, students, renters, homeowners, housing providers, and more, it is critical that housing assistance, especially rental assistance be included in your legislative proposal.
The nearly $3 billion provided in the CARES Act to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) for public housing, housing choice vouchers and project based rental assistance while urgently needed, was not nearly enough to meet the needs of the millions of vulnerable persons at risk of housing insecurity for the duration of this crisis. Therefore, it is critical that emergency funding for public and affordable housing are included in the next COVID-19 economic relief and stimulus package.
As a part of that legislative package, CLPHA supports the following policies, resources and funding delineated in the HEROES Act:
• $4 billion for Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (“TBRA”), with the added language to make it clear that flexibility and fungibility from administrative fees to housing vouchers is authorized, despite a previous HUD notice disallowing it in their interpretation of the CARES Act. Also, including clarifying language that the funding may be used to cover or reimburse all allowable costs incurred by housing authorities due to coronavirus notwithstanding the date the costs were incurred.
• $2 billion for the Public Housing Operating Fund, including the clarifying language that the funding may be used to cover or reimburse all allowable costs incurred by housing authorities due to coronavirus notwithstanding the date the costs were incurred.
• $1 billion for new single-issue incremental vouchers targeted to individuals and families who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, fleeing, or attempting to flee, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
• $750 million for Project-Based Rental Assistance.
• Including the legislative language extending funding through September 30, 2021 for the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative program that is shortly due to expire.
• $100 billion for Emergency Rental Assistance under the Emergency Solutions Grants program (ESG), with modified statutory language making the program flexible to permit different funding portals, such as emergency single-use housing vouchers, or other rental assistance platforms also able to allocate the funds.
Additionally, CLPHA calls on Congress to provide for a significant expansion of the Housing Choice Voucher program (“HCV”). The short- and long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic require a response proportional to the growing magnitude of this crisis. Through an expansion of the HCV program that housing authorities have the capacity to manage, vouchers can provide cost effective assistance, bring landlords into the program, and provide cross-sector services to address the needs of low-income families through several possible expansion scenarios. An expansion of the voucher program is the best solution to address the growing affordability crisis among households affected by the pandemic.
CLPHA also supports the following funding levels for other housing and community development programs contained in the HEROES Act:
• $11.5 billion under Homeless Assistance Grants for the ESG program
• $5 billion in Community Development Block Grants
• $1.2 billion to provide staffing, services, and other resources for Section 202 properties, plus
• $500 million in additional funding for elderly housing, with $300 million going to service coordinators
• $1 billion for Community Development Financial Institutions in distressed communities
• $309 million for rural rental assistance
• $200 million for housing for persons with disabilities in Section 811 properties Thank you for your consideration of our request as it will allow housing authorities and the residents they serve to recover from the pandemic crisis. We look forward to supporting your work as the next economic relief and stimulus legislation works its way through the legislative process.
Thank you for your consideration of our request as it will allow housing authorities and the residents they serve to recover from the pandemic crisis. We look forward to supporting your work as the next economic relief and stimulus legislation works its way through the legislative process.