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.
https://ruralhome.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/covid-news.png9001600Daniel Sternhttps://Ruralhome.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/HACLogo_horizontal-1.pngDaniel Stern2022-01-27 22:36:072022-01-27 23:04:33Covid-19 Cases Explode as Omicron Variant Hits Rural America
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.
https://ruralhome.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/covid-news.png9001600Christina Davilahttps://Ruralhome.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/HACLogo_horizontal-1.pngChristina Davila2021-12-23 15:26:342022-01-10 21:15:39COVID in Rural America in 5 Charts
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.”
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.
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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.
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”)
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
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
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.
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.
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.
https://ruralhome.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/covid-tile-2.png9001600actualizehttps://Ruralhome.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/HACLogo_horizontal-1.pngactualize2021-04-06 07:03:352021-05-24 05:19:12Round-up of Recent Housing Announcements Related to Coronavirus
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.
https://ruralhome.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/covid-news.png9001600actualizehttps://Ruralhome.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/HACLogo_horizontal-1.pngactualize2021-03-29 07:10:472021-05-24 07:13:58CDC Eviction Moratorium Extended through June
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.
https://ruralhome.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/covid-news.png9001600actualizehttps://Ruralhome.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/HACLogo_horizontal-1.pngactualize2021-03-11 06:29:012021-05-28 13:40:37HAC Celebrates Signing of American Rescue Plan Act
https://ruralhome.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/covid-19_2-20_map.png7581391Daniel Sternhttps://Ruralhome.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/HACLogo_horizontal-1.pngDaniel Stern2021-02-24 22:09:452021-05-21 14:09:36365 Days of Covid-19 in Rural America
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.
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.
https://Ruralhome.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/HACLogo_horizontal-1.png00actualizehttps://Ruralhome.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/HACLogo_horizontal-1.pngactualize2020-12-30 05:43:242021-05-19 11:07:03USDA Issues Reminder on Tenant Evictions