Rural COVID Cases are Starting to Decline, but the Delta Variant Hit Rural Communities Particularly Hard

The Housing Assistance Council presents updated data on the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on rural communities.

As of September 30, there have been more than 6.5 million reported cases of COVID-19 and approximately 114,163 associated deaths in communities outside metropolitan areas. During September, communities outside of metropolitan areas reported more than 870,000 new cases – a 24 percent increase over the month of August. Since the onset of the Delta variant this summer, death rates have been substantially higher in rural places than in metro areas.

Coronavirus news

Help for Renters, Homeowners, and Landlords as Federal Protections Expire

If the coronavirus pandemic has impacted your finances so that you can’t keep up on your rent, utilities, or mortgage payments – or if you are trying to help someone in this situation – this page is for you. It lists resources where you can get advice, information about financial assistance, and more.

Updated August 27, 2021 – On August 26, the Supreme Court invalidated the Centers for Disease Control’s moratorium on evictions. State or local moratoriums are still in effect in some places

Help paying your rent

Search for rent and utilities help in this list of over 480 programs across the United States run by states, counties, and cities. The list is also available on this site from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, including notes about which programs are currently taking applications.

If you can’t access either of these lists online, call HUD at 1-800-569-4287 to find a housing counseling agency near you. Then call the housing counseling agency for help finding rent assistance.

Other information for renters

This step-by-step guide for people at risk of eviction was prepared by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.

Some state and local governments have protected residents against eviction. This summary of state and local eviction protections is offered by a legal assistance site, which warns the information can change quickly.

Information about the kinds of help available for renters and advice about what you can do to protect yourself is posted here by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Legal advice

Legal Aid offices can provide free legal assistance to people with low incomes. To find a Legal Aid office, search on this site.

Housing counseling

HUD sponsors housing counseling agencies throughout the country that can provide free advice on renting, defaults, foreclosures, credit issues, and buying a home. Services from HUD-certified housing counseling agencies provide unbiased and free information. To find a HUD-certified agency in your area, search this site or call HUD at 1-800-569-4287.

Help for homeowners

Information for homeowners is collected on this website.

If you have a mortgage from one of the programs in the list below, the lender can foreclose on you because foreclosure moratoriums ended on July 31. But they cannot evict you – moratoriums on evictions of homeowners were extended through September 30.

Information about mortgage forbearance (delayed payments) and other options for homeowners is available from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Information for homeowners with VA mortgages

Information about assistance to help veterans avoid eviction is provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

New Protections for Homeowners with VA Mortgages, Effective July 27 is an article from the National Consumer Law Center.

Information for owners of rental property

If you need help because your tenants can’t pay rent, advice and resources are posted on this site by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

If your mortgage is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac (check here and here to find out), contact the bank you send mortgage payments to and request a temporary delay in making payments.

More information on housing assistance

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has compiled this website with links to many different kinds of housing help.

COVID-19 in Rural America: Updated July 31, 2021

The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) presents summary findings of COVID-19 and its larger impacts 528 days after the first identified case in rural America.

Coronavirus news

Agencies Extend Housing Relief

Federal housing agencies put many special provisions into effect early in 2020 to help people deal with the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, and have extended them repeatedly. This table was updated on April 6, 2021 with new dates for the CDC eviction moratorium, HUD Section 184 and 184A loan guarantees, and Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac owner-occupied homes. More details about actions taken in March 2021 are available here. This table will continue to be revised as more changes are announced.

 

Agency
and
Program 
 Policy  Expiration date Contact for more information
Centers for Disease Control Moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent  – applies to all tenants unable to pay rent because of coronavirus impacts 6/30/21 Landlord, state housing agency, community housing organization, local government, legal aid. Report Evictions that violate the moratorium to the CFPB, 855-411-2372.
USDA RD Section 502 direct loans and Section 504 direct loans Moratorium on foreclosures and evictions – USDA will not initiate foreclosures or complete foreclosures in process and will not evict residents  6/30/21 USDA RD service center
USDA RD Section 502 direct loans and Section 504 financing Temporary authorization to accept appraisals from local appraisers  9/30/21 USDA RD state office
USDA RD Section 502 guaranteed loans Moratorium on foreclosures and evictions – lenders that made loans guaranteed by USDA cannot initiate foreclosures or complete foreclosures in process and cannot evict residents  6/30/21
USDA RD service center
USDA RD Section 502 guaranteed loans Temporary exceptions related to appraisals, inspections and employment verifications  6/30/21 USDA RD service center
USDA RD Section 523 self-help Flexibilities for self-help housing organizations until further notice Self-help TMA provider or USDA RD service center
USDA RD Compilation of measures related to RD programs
HUD HOME program Waivers and suspensions of various requirements  9/30/21 HUD CPD Field Office
HUD Public and Indian housing programs, including HUD vouchers Waivers and suspensions of various requirements  6/30/21 HUD staff,  PIH-COVID@hud.gov
HUD Section 184 and 184A mortgage guarantees Moratorium on foreclosure and eviction of borrowers, as well as loan forbearance for borrowers, loan processing flexibilities, loss mitigation  6/30/21  HUD staff,  OLGINFO@hud.gov
FEMA Individuals and Households Program Remote inspections for disaster survivors until further notice
FEMA Helpline, 1-800-621-3362
Federal Housing Finance Agency/Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – single-family Moratorium on single-family foreclosures and evictions – lenders that are servicing single-family mortgages owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac cannot foreclose on homeowners or tenants, or evict residents from properties previously foreclosed on (“real estate owned” or “REO”)  6/30/21 Fannie MaeFreddie Mac
Federal Housing Finance Agency/Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – single-family homebuyers Flexibilities in connection with mortgage loan originations – related to appraisals, documenting income and verifying employment, using power of attorney at closing  4/30/21 Fannie MaeFreddie Mac
Federal Housing Finance Agency/Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – multifamily Mortgage forbearance – owners of multifamily rental property whose mortgages are owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac (check here and here to find out) can contact the mortgage servicer and request a temporary delay in making payments  6/30/21 Mortgage servicer
CARES Act Mortgage forbearance – homeowners whose mortgages are owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac (check here and here to find out if yours is) or are backed by a government entity (USDA, VA, FHA, HUD Native American Programs) can contact the mortgage servicer (the office or company you send mortgage checks to) and request a temporary delay in making payments  See relevant agency in this table
Mortgage servicer; HUD housing counseling agencyConsumer Financial Protection Bureau, 855-411-2372
Federal Housing Administration (FHA) single-family mortgage insurance programs Foreclosure and eviction moratorium – lenders that made loans insured by FHA cannot initiate foreclosures or complete foreclosures in process and cannot evict residents  6/30/21 FHA Resource Center, 1-800-CALL-FHA
Department of Veterans Affairs Moratorium on foreclosures and evictions from properties secured by VA-guaranteed loans  6/30/21 VA loan staff, 1-877-827-3702

 

To provide additions, updates or corrections for this page, please contact  HAC staff.

Coronavirus news

Rural-Related Coronavirus Media Coverage

News reports on the pandemic often focus on big cities, but rural places are getting a share of the attention too. Check out the coverage here.

Check out all of HAC’s coronavirus resource pages here.

 THESE SOURCES HAVE ONGOING RURAL COVERAGE

MEDIA COVERAGE (please let us know what we’ve missed!)

WANT TO SUGGEST AN ADDITION FOR THIS PAGE? Please email Leslie Strauss at HAC.

Round-up of Recent Housing Announcements Related to Coronavirus

This page summarizes a number of announcements from federal agencies on housing policies related to the coronavirus pandemic, most of which were issued in March 2021. It is current as of April 5, 2021. HAC has posted a table here that shows the deadlines for many federal agencies’ provisions.

If you have a correction or an addition, please contact Leslie Strauss on HAC’s staff.

REQUEST FOR COMMENTS
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has proposed changes that are intended to delay foreclosures on homeowners who have not been able to pay their mortgages for pandemic-related reasons. Comments are due May 10, 2021. (CFPB’s press release somewhat confusingly says comments are due “before May 11.”) Forbearance (permission to delay making mortgage payments) will end for almost 1.7 million homeowners in September and the following months, CFPB states, with many of them a year or more behind on their mortgage payments. The proposed rule changes would require lenders and servicers to wait until after December 31, 2021 before starting most foreclosures, to offer loan modifications to borrowers, and to take other steps. A separate bulletin for lenders advises them to prepare early for the wave of homeowners exiting forbearance.
DEADLINE EXTENSIONS
  • The Centers for Disease Control has extended the nationwide eviction moratorium through June 30, with some changes in wording. CDC also posted a new checklist version of the Eviction Protection Declaration for tenants to use. USDA RD announced that the moratorium applies to tenants in USDA-assisted properties. For more information, property owners and management agents can contact their RD servicing representative (on the linked page, click the Contact tab). Tenants can request information from HUD-certified housing counseling agencies.
  • The application deadline for the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses (including nonprofits) was extended to May 31 by the PPP Extension Act of 2021.
  • HUD has revised and extended provisions for the Section 184 Native American and Section 184A Native Hawaiian mortgage guarantee programs. Moratoriums on foreclosure and eviction of borrowers are extended through June 30, 2021. Other date changes and expansions apply to loan processing flexibilities, borrower requests for forbearance, borrower eligibility for loss mitigation, and more.
  • Some flexibilities related to new single-family mortgage loans, put in place by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac earlier in the pandemic, have been extended until April 30. These include alternative appraisals, alternative methods for documenting income and verifying employment before loan closing and expanded use of power of attorney.
  • Forbearance options for owners of rental property whose mortgages are held by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac are extended through June 30. Landlords who are experiencing financial hardship because of the pandemic can request mortgage forbearance and must agree to certain tenant protections. For more information, contact a mortgage lender or servicer.
  • The Federal Housing Administration has extended some temporary policies through June 30, 2021. The policies provide flexibility in using exterior-only appraisals, re-verifying employment, verifying self-employment income, verifying rental income and use of escrow accounts for some borrowers in forbearance.
EXPIRATION
  • One of the Federal Housing Administration’s temporary policies expired on March 31, 2021. Mortgagee Letter 2020-16, issued in June 2020 and then extended, allowed FHA-approved lenders to endorse mortgages that had received forbearance because of the pandemic. FHA explained that fewer than 3 percent of FHA-approved mortgagees had requested endorsement of such mortgages, so it expected little impact from the provision’s expiration. Homeowners with FHA-insured mortgages can still request forbearance; currently that policy is in place through June 30, 2021.
OTHER TENANT-RELATED ANNOUNCEMENTS
  • The Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced in a joint statement that “both agencies will be monitoring and investigating eviction practices, particularly by major multistate landlords, eviction management services, and private equity firms, to ensure that they are complying with the law.” Evictions that violate the moratorium, as well as other unlawful debt collection practices, can be reported to the CFPB at www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/ or 855-411-2372.
  • USDA reminded owners and managers of USDA-financed multifamily properties that the CARES Act instituted a required 30-day notice before evicting a tenant, and that provision has no expiration date. The agency also noted that a lease cannot be terminated or not renewed as an alternative to eviction. USDA has also mailed letters to all Section 514 and 515 tenants about the Emergency Rental Assistance Program support that is being distributed through states and localities. For more information, contact an RD state office.
  • USDA’s multifamily housing office reminded stakeholders that tenants displaced by disasters are eligible for priority access to available units at RD rental properties. Their status may be documented by either an RD-issued Letter of Priority Engagement (for tenants from RD properties) or a registration letter issued by FEMA (for tenants from any properties). For more information, or to request a temporary waiver, property owners and management agents should contact their RD servicing representative (on the linked page, click the Contact tab). Tenants impacted by disasters can locate RD properties here and register with FEMA here or at 800-621-3362.
Coronavirus news

CDC Eviction Moratorium Extended through June

On March 29, 2021 the Centers for Disease Control extended its moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent. Tenants will now be protected through June 30 so long as they meet the moratorium’s requirements, including providing their landlord with a declaration form about their inability to pay rent.

The moratorium was first imposed in September 2020 and has faced several expiration dates but has been renewed repeatedly. The most recent deadline was March 31.

The ban’s applicability in USDA Rural Development rental housing was confirmed in a March 29 press release.

Federal consumer protection agencies now seem to be willing to take a more active role in enforcing the moratorium than they have previously. A statement from the Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, issued on March 29, asserts that “both agencies will be monitoring and investigating eviction practices, particularly by major multistate landlords, eviction management services, and private equity firms, to ensure that they are complying with the law. Evicting tenants in violation of the CDC, state, or local moratoria, or evicting or threatening to evict them without apprising them of their legal rights under such moratoria, may violate prohibitions against deceptive and unfair practices.”

Low-income tenants who cannot afford their rent because of the coronavirus epidemic’s impacts may wish to seek help from a legal aid office.

Coronavirus news

HAC Celebrates Signing of American Rescue Plan Act

March 11, 2021 – Today is a historic day as President Biden signed a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief and economic stimulus plan into law. The Housing Assistance Council is proud that Congress included significant and desperately needed housing aid—including rural housing assistance—in this new plan.

With more than 4 million reported cases and 78,000 deaths outside metropolitan areas, the coronavirus pandemic has raged in rural America. It has driven an economic downturn, as countless rural families have lost jobs and struggled to make rent and mortgage payments. The plan’s $100 million in rural rental assistance will help keep a roof over their heads. The plan also includes $39 million in rural mortgage relief, helping rural families prevent foreclosure.

Housing is vital to public health and economic opportunity and is a cornerstone of community and family. We are glad that the American Rescue Plan recognizes the importance of housing to our nation’s health and economic recovery.

Summary of Relevant Provisions

The American Rescue Plan Act includes two provisions specifically for USDA rural housing programs. The Section 521 Rental Assistance program will get $100 million for tenants in USDA-financed properties who are not already receiving RA and have lost income because of the pandemic. Protections for homeowners will be provided through $39 million for new Section 502 direct mortgage loans and Section 504 repair loans. Because of restrictions imposed by the budget reconciliation process that was used to pass the bill, it could not include funds to refinance loans for current USDA borrowers who are struggling, but USDA will be able to assist them with previously appropriated funds.

The Act also does not include an extension of the eviction moratorium that is currently scheduled to expire on March 31. It, too, had to be excluded under budget reconciliation. The Centers for Disease Control, which imposed the moratorium, can extend it.

The largest portion of housing aid in the bill is $21.55 billion for Treasury’s Emergency Rental Assistance program, along with $5 billion for emergency HUD vouchers, $750 million for HUD’s Native American, Native Hawaiian and Indian CDBG programs, $5 billion for homelessness assistance, $9.96 billion for homeowner assistance, and $100 million for housing counseling. Utility assistance is funded at $4.5 billion and $500 million is provided for water assistance.

The package expands the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, and also extends expanded unemployment benefits through Labor Day .

More than $5 billion will pay off debts and provide other assistance to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.

USDA Issues Reminder on Tenant Evictions

December 30, 2020 – The newest federal coronavirus relief bill includes a provision extending for one month the nationwide moratorium on eviction of tenants for nonpayment of rent. The moratorium, issued by the Centers for Disease Control in September 2020, protects tenants who provide certifications to their landlords, including tenants in assisted housing. It now applies through January 31, 2021 rather than the original termination date of December 31, 2020.

USDA has issued a reminder about the moratorium’s applicability to tenants in USDA-financed rental housing. The text of the reminder is incorporated in a December 29 update of USDA’s summary of coronavirus relief actions and is also reproduced below.

For more information, contact a USDA Rural Development Service Center.

 

Extention of CDC Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 enacted on Dec. 27, 2020, contains provisions extending new relief to those affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Section 502 of the Act contains an extension of the Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions originally issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on September 4, 2020. Residential evictions for nonpayment of rent are now halted through January 31, 2021.

As a reminder, this halt applies to all tenants in Rural Development MFH properties who certify that they meet the CDC criteria, such as:

  • All adults in the household have attempted to obtain any available government assistance for rent
  • The household meets income limits of $99,000 per individual or $198,000 per couple
  • The household is unable to pay full rent due to a loss in household income or extraordinary medical expenses
  • Timely partial payments have been attempted
  • Eviction would likely make the household homeless or force them into an unsafe shared living arrangement

The CDC guidance contains a sample certification form for tenants. It is our understanding that all adult members of the household must certify eligibility.