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UPDATED: President-Elect Biden Proposes Additional $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 Relief

UPDATE 1/20/21:
This evening President Joe Biden is expected to sign an Executive Order extending the existing CDC eviction order through the end of March as part of a slate of 15 executive actions to address numerous critical health and economic issues, as well as to reverse numerous policies of the out-going White House. The EO on evictions is also expected to extend forbearances for federally-backed mortgages. 

It is unclear at this time whether or not there will be additional changes to the existing CDC order beyond an extension of duration. President Biden is also expected to urge Congress to act quickly to pass additional COVID-19 relief to supplement what the Executive Orders can effectuate. In a proposal released last week (the American Rescue Plan), the new President also recommends Congress pass legislation for an eviction moratorium through the end of September.

The upcoming Executive Order is necessary as the current CDC order expires on January 31st. Extending eviction protections will help to keep people housed while state and local agencies work to deploy rental assistance enacted at the end of December. North Carolina stands to receive over $700 million. 

As of this writing, it is unclear where the latest rental assistance funds will be administered. The HOPE Program, North Carolina’s statewide rental assistance program started in 2020, is the most obvious location. However the Governor and the NC General Assembly will ultimately make this decision. For now, the HOPE Program remains closed to new applications as staff work to process payments for those applications already received. 

To date, the HOPE Program has assisted over 24,000 households in maintaining their housing. Over $62 million thus far has been distributed for rental ($47.2 M) and utility ($14.8 M) payments. New policy and program changes will be announced next week to increase the acceptance of funds and otherwise speed up fund disbursement. 

For more information, read below or listen to the 1/19/2021 Housing Call.

Last night, President-elect Joe Biden released a $1.9 trillion legislative proposal for a comprehensive COVID-19 relief package, that includes essential resources and protections for renters and people experiencing homelessness. This package if passed would be in addition to the most recently-enacted relief measures.

President-elect Biden calls for the following housing provisions:

  • An extension of the federal eviction moratorium through September 2021;
  • $30 billion in emergency rental and utility assistance;
  • $1,400 stimulus checks; and
  • $5 billion to address the health and housing needs of people experiencing homelessness.

Additionally, Biden proposes to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, further expand unemployment benefits, provide a 15% increase in food assistance (SNAP), increase the Child Tax Credit, and many other economic supports. Advocates are calling on Congress to pass this legislation as quickly as possible. 

While the proposal is a big step towards meeting the scale of the economic devastation facing millions of people, more resources are needed. (Additional recommendations on needed housing priorities for the next COVID-19 relief package can be found here). The reality of legislative timing combined with Congress being consumed by impeachment proceedings, means that additional action will be required by the Biden administration in order to prevent evictions as people await the implementation of additional resources. Specifically, advocates are calling on President-elect Biden to issue an executive order to extend, strengthen, and enforce the current CDC eviction order set to expire on January 31. 

In the meantime, here in North Carolina we will need to remain vigilant to ensure the efficient and targeted implementation of the most recently enacted housing resources. For an update on NC’s allocated emergency rental assistance funds, please visit our blog update.

Go here to read Biden’s proposal: American Rescue Plan.

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