The Chance for Federal Rent Relief by Year’s End

Industry groups are eyeing the potential for attaching relief funding to a spending bill needed to avoid a government shutdown.

Photo by Joshua Sukoff via Unsplash

Industry groups are hopeful that federal rent relief could come for the multifamily industry before the end of the year, when both the CDC eviction moratorium and unemployment benefits passed in the CARES Act are set to expire.

The current stopgap spending bill, signed by President Trump in September, is set to expire Dec. 11. If a new bill is not passed before the deadline, there will be a government shutdown. Legislators from both sides of the aisle are currently working to secure bipartisan agreement by the end of this week on funding totals for a 12-bill spending package that would prevent the shutdown from happening.

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Leaders from both parties have said they would like to pass an omnibus bill rather than a continuing resolution that would only fund the government in the short term, but have sent mixed messages on whether COVID-19 relief measures will be a part of the legislation.

How it could happen

Industry groups are eyeing the possibility of a stimulus relief bill being attached to the spending package during the lame duck session. According to Sarah Saadian, vice president of public policy at the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, Congresswoman and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is “actively considering” the approach.

“There is an opening now for a COVID relief package before the end of the year,” said National Low-Income Housing Coalition President & CEO Diane Yentel during the organization’s weekly call Nov. 10., adding that passing the package at a level that is needed will be “difficult.”

“We have our work cut out for us,” she said. “But the door has been opened and it’s a possibility. So we’re going to push.”

Cindy Chetti

NMHC’s Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Cindy Chetti told Multi-Housing News her organization has continued to push hard for more rent relief, recently sending a letter authored by several other real estate colleagues to Congress and the White House, urging them to come together on a stimulus package during the lame duck session. They focused their push on additional unemployment insurance, a rental assistance fund and more PPE.

“It’s a little bit perplexing on my part because I think that it’s hard to understand how Congress could walk away from doing something before the holidays or the end of the year to help folks that are hurting,” said Chetti. “I’m concerned that there doesn’t seem to be either side willing to budge at this point.”

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown expressed concern during the NLIHC call last week that scores of renters have taken on credit card debt and utilized payday lenders to get by during the pandemic, which could lead to further financial difficulty down the line.

“Too many renters fall through the cracks of the CDC eviction order,” said Brown. “When it expires, many families will not be able to afford rent and back payments. People shouldn’t have to fend for themselves without outside help in the middle of a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic.”

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