Coronavirus news

Covid-19 Cases Explode as Omicron Variant Hits Rural America

The first reported case of COVID-19 in rural America was on February 20, 2020. As of January 20, 2022 there have been more than 9.6 million reported cases of COVID-19 and more than 152,000 associated deaths in communities outside metropolitan areas. Between December 20, 2021 and January 20, 2022 communities outside of metropolitan areas reported more than 1.8 million new cases of COVID-19 – a 223 percent increase over the previous month.

Coronavirus news

COVID in Rural America in 5 Charts

The pandemic continues to impact rural America. The slides below provide data on the progression of the pandemic since February 2020  and offer an overview of cases and death rates.

Creating the New Normal: COVID-19 leaves its mark on Rural America Cover

Rural Voices: COVID-19 leaves its mark on Rural America

Over the past a year and a half, the coronavirus pandemic has profoundly reshaped the world. COVID-19 has killed well over 4.5 million people across the globe, including approximately 96,600 in rural America. It closed down large segments of the economies of nearly every country, including the United States. It changed the way our children attended school. It deepened our political disagreements. And it altered our housing markets, the ways we work, and the needs of the low-income rural people we serve.

This issue of Rural Voices looks at some of the pandemic’s impacts on affordable rural housing efforts in the U.S. It also examines ways these impacts may be turning into lasting changes – a “new normal.”


Listening and Learning to Better Serve Rural Communities
by Steven K. Washington

HUD offers flexibility to help rural nonprofits weather the pandemic.


Rural Housing Efforts Continued Through Closures, Natural Disasters, and Financial Challenges

Four rural housing leaders describe how the pandemic changed the ways their organizations work.

Resilient in the Desert: Self-Help Housing Blooms in Arizona Despite the Pandemic
by Thomas Ryan

Housing America Corporation and its self-help housing program faced a series of challenges but adapted to a new normal.

Study Reveals Pandemic’s Impact on Oregon Farmworkers
by Jennifer Martinez-Medina

Survey results describe the pandemic’s threats to farmworkers’ family finances, housing conditions, and both physical and mental health. Community-based housing and rental aid programs have provided some relief.

Wisconsin Works to House Rural Residents and Eradicate Homelessness
by Carrie Poser and Michael Basford

The pandemic has exacerbated the homelessness situation, but federal aid helps.

Keeping Rural Renters Housed During the Pandemic
by Victoria Bourret, Daniel Threet, And Rebecca Yae

NLIHC presents best practices for ensuring rural tenants receive emergency rental assistance.

New Faces at HAC

We welcomed several new HACsters to the team this year. Their work will improve our ability to serve more rural Americans and bolster HAC’s efforts to support affordable housing in rural communities.


COVID-19 in Rural AmericaCOVID-19 Hot Spots


Rural Voices would like to hear what you have to say about one, or all, of these issues. Please comment on these stories by sending a tweet to #RuralVoices, discuss on the Rural Affordable Housing Group on LinkedIn, or on our Facebook page.

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.


 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,
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,
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.


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


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.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.