In light of COVID-19, we are temporarily making our Member Brief available to non-members. If you wish to join, click here.
Weekly update from the National Housing Conference
News from Washington
Congress passes stopgap measure, but stimulus talks remain stalled

Narrowly avoiding a government shutdown, the president signed a stopgap spending bill this week. The short-term measure, which passed the Senate on Wednesday, will fund the government through Dec. 11, and includes new funding for farm aid, as well as $8 billion in additional funding for nutrition programs.

“This bipartisan continuing resolution will keep government open, prevent a devastating shutdown, and allow additional time to negotiate full-year appropriations bills,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.). “I am particularly pleased that Democrats prevailed in securing nearly $8 billion in desperately needed nutrition assistance for struggling Americans.”

With the continuing resolution complete, attention quickly turned back to negotiations on a phase IV stimulus bill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met this week to discuss a possible path forward. Following her meeting with the Treasury secretary, Pelosi released a statement, saying, “Today, Secretary Mnuchin and I had an extensive conversation and we found areas where we are seeking further clarification. Our conversations will continue.”

At the same time, the House is moving forward with a slightly smaller version of the Heroes Act, which would provide $2.2 trillion in new stimulus spending, compared to the $3.4 trillion proposed in the previous version of the bill. The updated legislation was released early in the week and passed the House on Thursday. It would extend the weekly $600 in federal unemployment benefits through the end of the year, provide $50 billion in emergency rental assistance and allocate $21 billion to states and localities to support struggling homeowners.

With only a few weeks until the election and the Senate GOP working towards confirmation of President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Barrett, the passage of a fourth relief package remains an uphill battle.
House hearing examines how COVID-19 affects Native Americans

The House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies convened a hearing this week to review the government’s response to COVID-19 as it pertains to Indian Country and Native Americans. Data from UCLA’s American Indian Studies Center and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals the racial disparities in COVID-19’s impact. UCLA reported that seven tribes experienced more cases per 100,000 citizens than any state and CDC found that Native American, Hispanic and Black children accounted for 75% of COVID-19 deaths among children.

“We have discussed year after year…those disparities and the broken promises of the federal government to fund adequate healthcare, nutrition, and public health protections for Native Americans,” said Subcommittee Chair Betty McCollum (D-Minn.). “The need to examine and address the ongoing situation in Indian Country is apparent. Congress needs to understand the full impact of the pandemic on Native Americans, and how to better meet the needs of your communities in future relief packages.”

In addition to the devastating toll COVID-19 has had on Native Americans’ health and well-being, tribal communities have lost an estimated $4.4 billion in economic activity and $997 million in wages, according to the Center for American Progress.

National Congress of American Indians CEO Kevin Allis testified during the hearing. “Indian Country is in a national emergency that – while intensified by COVID-19 – has its roots in the federal government’s neglect of its fiduciary obligations to tribal nations and citizens. This existing crisis created disparities that led to American Indians and Alaska Natives’ vulnerability to the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. Representatives from the National Indian Health Board and the National Council of Urban Indian Health also testified and requested additional funding from the federal government.
Forbearances slow, but some homeowners miss out on CARES Act protections

The share of mortgages in forbearance dropped to 6.87% as of Sept. 20, 2020, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). This marks the 16th week of consecutive declines for GSE loans, among which only 4.46% are currently in forbearance. Even Ginnie Mae loans, which have seen a higher rate of forbearance, are starting to see a reprieve in forbearances, which now represent 9.15% of all loans.

As of late September, MBA estimates there were 3.4 million homeowners in forbearance, many of whom are relying on the loss mitigation options provided by the CARES Act. Data from mortgage vendor Black Knight, however, reveals that more than one million homeowners are 30+ days delinquent and not in a forbearance plan. “Some borrowers are falling through the cracks that we’re not picking up,” Lisa Rice, president and chief executive of the National Fair Housing Alliance, told the Wall Street Journal.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Housing Finance Agency continue to remind homeowners and servicers of the options available if homeowners are unable to pay their mortgage as a result of financial hardship incurred during COVID-19. Ginnie Mae recently clarified pooling eligibility considerations for servicers of Department of Veterans Affairs loans applying deferment as a loss mitigation option for CARES Act forbearances.

Black Knight’s data suggests, however, that confusion remains among homeowners, who may require better information and more outreach from mortgage servicers to ensure all households are able to take advantage of the protections afforded to them under the CARES Act. NHC has featured two nonprofit organizations working to educate homeowners on their loss mitigation options and help them avoid foreclosure as part of our COVID-19 Housing Resource Center’s best practices
Renters already owe more than $12 billion in past due rent

The National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA) published an analysis of the current and projected shortfall in rent payment resulting from COVID-19, which paints a dire picture for renters and property owners if Congress fails to pass federal rental assistance. As of mid-September, 10 to 14 million renter households, representing about 23 million individuals, were behind on their rent by an estimated $12 to $17 billion. This estimate does not include interest or fees that may be charged on top of overdue rent.
Although the CDC’s agency order helps keep renter households in their homes through the end of the year, NCSHA predicts the rental crises will dramatically worsen between now and January 2021, when the eviction moratorium expires. “Given what appears to be a slow economic recovery, it is reasonable to expect ongoing elevated unemployment, high rent burden among low-income renter households, continued accumulation of unpaid rent, and continued risk of eviction beyond January 2021,” said NCSHA.

The report estimates that renters could owe as much as $34 billion heading into the New Year, with more than 8 million renters likely facing an eviction filing in January. NCSHA’s analysis estimates that certain states, like Maine, will experience fewer evictions, whereas states such as Florida are expected to face more than 600,000 eviction filings by January 2021.
HUD releases Section 3 final rule

HUD released the final rule for the Section 3 program this week, replacing an interim rule that has been in effect for more than 20 years. The final rule streamlines the program, which is designed to support economic opportunities for low- and very low-income households that receive government assistance.

"HUD funding is an investment in the people we serve, not just an investment in affordable housing or community development. Section 3 works to bring economic opportunities to HUD families and ultimately drives self-sufficiency through sustainable employment,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson.

The final rule promotes HUD’s new online Opportunity Portal, which matches Section 3 residents to training and employment opportunities with Section 3 businesses. The final rule simplifies reporting requirements and updates reporting metrics to focus on key outcomes, such as successful, sustained employment.
Chart of the Week
Chart of the week: Shelter helps homeless populations avoid ‘homelessness-jail cycle’

The Urban Institute recently examined the “homelessness-jail cycle” and how to break it. The Urban Institute surveyed interactions with the justice system and emergency services, including police contacts and emergency room visits, and found that those experiencing unsheltered homelessness had far more incidences than people living in shelters. “Frequent interactions with the justice system can trap people in a homelessness-jail cycle, rotating them in and out of jails and emergency public services,” the Urban Institute warned.
What we're reading
This week, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan announced the creation of a $48 million affordable housing fund, called the Detroit Housing for the Future Fund. “The funding will help close the financing gap for developers to build new or preserve existing affordable housing units in the city,” the Detroit News reported. The public-private partnership fund received contributions from JPMorgan Chase and the Kresge Foundation. NHC’s David Dworkin commented on the fund in a Detroit Free Press article, calling it a “model for the rest of the nation” because it brings multiple partners together and addresses the development phase of creating affordable housing. “Detroit needs investment but we need to ensure that it doesn’t result in displacement and the time to do that is now while housing is still affordable. Most cities miss this opportunity and it costs them much more in the long run to play catch up,” he said.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) is tracking the ongoing effects of COVID-19 on American households, including their access to food, safe housing and employment opportunities. CBPP found that one in seven adults with children reported experiencing food shortages within the past seven days; among these families Black and Latinx households were more likely to experience food insufficiency than their White cohorts. CBPP also reported that one in six renters were behind on rent, with Black, Latinx and Asian renters experiencing the greatest hardship.

In response to the collapsing middle class, Brookings unveiled a new report, entitled “A New Contract with the Middle Class." “Since our nation’s founding, the American Dream has always been based on an implicit understanding – a contract if you will – between individuals willing to work and contribute, and a society willing to support those in need and to break down the barriers in front of them,” said Brookings. This contract however is being strained by wage stagnation, “fragile finances, poor health and precarious employment.” The report offers policy recommendations and principles for moving forward.
The week ahead
Monday, October 5
Tuesday, October 6
Wednesday, October 7
Thursday, October 8
The National Housing Conference has been defending the American Home since 1931. We believe everyone in America should have equal opportunity to live in a quality, affordable home in a thriving community. NHC convenes and collaborates with our diverse membership and the broader housing and community development sectors to advance our policy, research and communications initiatives to effect positive change at the federal, state and local levels. Politically diverse and nonpartisan, NHC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
Defending our American Home since 1931
Copyright © 2020. All Rights Reserved.