May 05, 2020

Warner & Kaine Introduce $75 Billion Housing Assistance Fund To Help Americans Facing Housing Insecurity Due To COVID-19

Senators warn evictions & foreclosures could have a ripple effect on the economy & could exacerbate public health crisis

WASHINGTON, DC Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine joined Senator Reed to introduce legislation to create a $75 billion Housing Assistance Fund to help protect renters, homeowners, and communities by preventing avoidable foreclosures, evictions, and utility shut offs. With the potential for a massive wave of evictions and foreclosures due to COVID-19, along with a possible second wave of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the Senators are calling on Congress to act now and give Americans a lifeline to keep families in their homes, stabilize communities, and prevent multiple crises from intersecting and overwhelming the U.S. economy. The legislation would provide assistance to communities nationwide and includes a small state minimum, ensuring each state would receive no less than $250 million.

 “Too many families in Virginia risk being evicted or having their homes foreclosed on – a threat that could make it all the more difficult to recover financially, even once this pandemic is over,” said Warner. “That’s why we must make it a priority to ensure that Virginia’s renters and homeowners have continued access to safe housing during the biggest economic crisis in a century.”

“Many Americans are in danger of losing their homes due to the financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic,” Kaine said. “Congress has to step up and prevent that from happening. I’m proud to join my colleagues to introduce this legislation to provide federal aid to help hardworking Americans during this time of crisis.”

The Housing Assistance Fund would build off of the Hardest Hit Fund (HHF), which provided funds to state housing finance agencies to direct targeted foreclosure prevention assistance to households and neighborhoods in states hit hard by the economic and housing market downturn. The Housing Assistance Fund expands this model to provide a flexible source of federal aid to all state-level Housing Finance Agencies (HFAs) to help people keep up with housing payments and help keep them in their homes. 

Through channels developed for HHF, HFAs could quickly and effectively use federal funding to help struggling households remain in their homes while they search for new employment or wait to get back to work.  Financial assistance could go toward mortgage payment and rental assistance; utility and internet payments; and other support to prevent eviction, mortgage delinquency, default, or foreclosure, or loss of utility services.

Along with Warner, Kaine, and Reed, the bill is cosponsored by every Democratic member of the Senate Banking Committee, including Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jon Tester (D-MT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Doug Jones (D-AL), Tina Smith (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), as well as Senators Tom Udall (D-NM), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Dick Durbin (D-IL).

The bill is supported by a diverse coalition of housing advocates, including: National Council of State Housing Agencies; Habitat for Humanity; National Housing Conference; National Community Reinvestment Coalition; National Association of Affordable Housing Lenders; National Leased Housing Association; Americans for Financial Reform; National Consumer Law Center, on behalf of its low-income clients; Center for Responsible Lending; Rhode Island Housing; and the Rhode Island Association of Realtors.

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