Two big pieces of news out of Washington this week. First, Congress approved the American Rescue Plan Act, which includes nearly $50 billion in federal funding for housing and homelessness relief. Second, the Senate confirmed Ohio’s own Marcia Fudge as our new Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
The $1.9 trillion covid relief package includes the most significant funding for low-income assistance programs in decades and builds on emergency housing and homeless response efforts included in last year’s relief bills. The new housing-related provisions include:
- $27.4 billion for emergency rental assistance in addition to the $25 billion that Congress approved for ERA in December’s covid relief bill. This includes $5 billion in emergency housing vouchers for people who are homeless or at-risk, and domestic violence survivors;
- More time for state and local governments to spend ERA resources – until March 31, 2022 for the new tranche. The deadline for the original ERA was extended to Sept. 30, 2022;
- $5 billion for homelessness assistance, including rental assistance and supportive services, affordable housing development, and funding for providers to acquire non-congregate shelter to be converted into permanent affordable housing or used as emergency shelter;
- $10 billion to help homeowners avoid foreclosure;
- $5 billion for utility assistance, and;
- $120 million for housing counseling and fair housing activities.
The bill also contains a lot of other provisions that will make a significant improvement in the lives of low-income Ohioans. In addition to the $1,400 stimulus checks and extension on $300/week unemployment benefits, the legislation makes the Child Tax Credit fully refundable. That means an estimated 27 million families with incomes that were too low to benefit from the tax credit will now receive $3,000 per child for one year.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition has more information about the housing provisions of the Rescue Plan. Our friends at NLIHC deserve a lot of credit for their dogged advocacy in getting Congress to include housing relief in the bill. And thank you to everyone who called and emailed your members of Congress to vote for emergency housing and homelessness assistance!
The Senate voted with significant bipartisan support to confirm Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (D-Cleveland) as our new HUD Secretary – the first Black woman to lead the agency in four decades.
In a brief video message Secretary Fudge acknowledged the massive challenges facing people who are struggling to stay housed during the pandemic. “Our country has an immense responsibility—and profound opportunity—to address the housing crisis facing so many people.”
Congratulations to Secretary Fudge! We look forward to working with you to expand affordable housing, end homelessness, and fight housing discrimination!