Urgent action is needed to address the impact of the COVID-19 crisis for people experiencing homelessness and America’s lowest-income renters. Congress is considering a third COVID-19 related relief package the week of March 23-27 that may include over $1.5 trillion in funding. The National Low-Income Housing Coalition and Affordable Rental Housing A.C.T.I.O.N. have outlined action steps we should all join in advocating for with Oregon’s congressional delegation.

Contact Oregon’s Congressional delegation at:

Highlights of actions we need to take at a national level include:

 Action steps for homeless individuals and families

  • Housing and Shelter – $15.5 billion is needed in McKinney-Vento Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) and $5 billion to prevent people from becoming homeless by providing short-term financial assistance and housing stabilization services. We need to quickly get homeless people into housing so they will not contract nor spread the coronavirus.
  • Medical respite care – Resources provided to Continuums of Care should allow funds to be used to provide medical respite care for people experiencing homelessness who would face even greater risk of illness or death on the streets.

Action steps for low-income renters

What’s needed next is to extend such protections for Veteran’s Affairs, USDA Rural Housing Service, and Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) subsidized housing.

  • Rental assistance and eviction prevention – Low-income renters will need emergency rental assistance to ensure they can remain housed during this crisis and not face evictions and homelessness.
  • Emergency funds for public housing and other HUD housing providers – Additional funds are needed to ensure housing providers have the resources to keep residents safe and healthy as well as maintain operations if there is a shortfall in rental income. Such additional costs include cleaning and staffing associated with protecting residents from an outbreak.

Long-Term Solutions

  • Increase investments in the national Housing Trust Fund – Any Coronavirus response must expand the national Housing Trust Fund, which is used to build and operate rental housing for people with the lowest incomes and people experiencing homelessness.
  • Provide rental assistance – Support a major expansion of Housing Choice Vouchers and/or create a targeted renters’ tax credit to help families keep more of their income for other essentials like food, medicine, education and transportation.

Actions for IRS to take on LIHTC program deadlines

Section 42 of the Internal Revenue Code sets three deadlines for Housing Credit developments that may be difficult or impossible to meet as the pace of development slows down as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Congress should provide a one-year extension for:

  • 10 percent test deadlines – Currently, at least 10 percent of the anticipated basis of a development must be expended within one year of the Housing Credit allocation. Temporarily extend this deadline to the end of the second year of allocation for properties that received Housing Credit allocations between December 31, 2016 and January 1, 2022.
  • Placed in service deadlines – Buildings must currently be placed in service by the end of the second year after the calendar year of the Housing Credit allocation. Propose temporarily extending this deadline to the end of the third year after the calendar year of allocation for properties that received Housing Credit allocations between December 31, 2016 and January 1, 2022.
  • Rehabilitation expenditure deadlines – These are currently required to be placed in service within 24 months. Propose temporarily extending the rehabilitation expenditures deadline to be met at the close of 36-months.
  • Enact a minimum 4 percent Housing Credit rate – To bolster future production and preservation of affordable housing. With federal borrowing rates effectively zeroed out in response to COVID-19’s economic impacts, the 4 percent Housing Credit rate is at an all-time low of 3.12 percent and will likely dip even further next month. Enacting a minimum 4 percent Housing Credit rate would provide parity to the 9 percent Housing Credit rate, for which Congress enacted a minimum rate as part of the response to the 2008 economic collapse in recognition of the critical role of affordable housing in the recovery.