While Congress considers whether to allocate emergency funding for rental assistance and homeless shelters, both the Department of Housing and Urban Development and USDA Rural Development (RD) have COVID-19 related updates to share.

HUD updates

HUD’s website: https://www.hud.gov/coronavirus

In a conference phone call today for Portland metro area housing providers, Tony Ramirez, Director of HUDs Oregon Field Office, noted that staff are working remotely and recognizes the need for flexibility with timelines due to the emergency.

You may have already heard the news that HUD has authorized the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to implement an immediate foreclosure and eviction moratorium for single family homeowners with FHA-insured mortgages for the next 60 days.

The FHA also announced today, March 23, that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will offer multifamily property owners mortgage forbearance with the condition that they suspend all evictions for renters unable to pay rent due to the impact of the crisis.

“Renters should not have to worry about being evicted from their home, and property owners should not have to worry about losing their building, due to the coronavirus,” said Director Mark Calabria. “The Enterprises are working with mortgage servicers to ensure that these programs are implemented immediately so that property owners and renters experiencing hardship because of the coronavirus can get the assistance they need.” At this time, no additional subsidy funding has been made available.

Below are more relevant links to Housing Oregon members:

Questions and Answers for Office of Multifamily Housing Stakeholders – Includes guidance on:

  • Emergency preparedness: CDC guidance for communities, businesses, and schools – which HUD recommends can assist housing providers.
  • Resident health: Guidance on disinfecting common spaces and units and protecting staff and Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations
  • Policy and Operations: Q & A addresses many questions you’re asking including:
    • At this time no additional subsidies are available for rent payment relief for Project-Based Rental Assistance and Project Rental Assistance Contract units.
    • Multfamily property owners can access property operating accounts for reasonable and necessary COVID-19 related actions.
    • Recertification interview issues.
    • Property reviews and inspectons – HUD is:
      • Postponing all REAC property inspections for multifamily properties.
      • Suspending Management and Occupancy Reviews (MORs) until PBCAs determine local conditions no longer prevent reviews from being completed safely.
      • Rent Comparability Studies (RCS) are suspended in areas under a state declared emergency.
    • Waivers and Extensions – HUD will consider policy and regulatory waivers on a case-by-case basis.
  • Guide to CDBG Eligible Activities to Support Infectious Disease Response lists eligible activities related to the COVID-19 crisis that may be funded with Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds.
  • Info for single family housing providers – The link is not active right now.

Rural Development updates

RD’s website: https://www.rd.usda.gov/ though no COVID-19 specific pages yet.

Wes Cochran, Multifamily Housing Program Director with Rural Development in Portland, provided an update on national directives via email that no blanket authorities or changes are proposed at this time and encouraged owners to follow CDC, State, and local protocols for dealing with COVID-19.

Owners are encouraged to work with impacted residents and families to adjust rent payments, enter into forbearance agreements, and lessen the impact on affected residents. At this time, no additional subsidy funding has been made available. If borrowers are temporarily unable to make loan payments, RD may waive late fees and enter into an official workout plan.

Owners and managers may consider extension requests for an active case of COVID-19 or where a resident has been advised to quarantine. Management should verify the reasons for the extension request, which may include written information from a medical or other health professional. Failure to recertify timely due to these conditions may not be used as cause for eviction.

States and local offices are given latitude and discretion in dealing with issues on a case-by-case basis. The Oregon office has ceased all travel including inspections and SV’s unless deemed absolutely necessary. They will continue with supervisory visits to the extent the review can be conducted remotely. They will be requesting files and supporting information to be delivered to our office just as we have in the past. Interviews with property staff will be conducted via tele-conference. No inspections or on-site visits will be planned.