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.

Early Information on Paycheck Protection Program Round 2

Following is a summary of what we know as of December 29, 2020 regarding the second round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP2) approved in the coronavirus relief bill signed into law on December 27, 2020. The Small Business Administration (SBA) and Treasury Department will likely provide additional information and guidance in the new year.

PPP2 Funding

  • The maximum loan amount for PPP2 is $2 million (down from $10 million in the CARES Act).
  • The coronavirus relief bill allocates just over $284 billion for PPP2 loans.

PPP2 Loan Categories

  • First time PPP loans for businesses who qualified under the CARES Act but did not get a loan
  • Second draw PPP loans for businesses that obtained a PPP loan but need additional funding
  • Additional funding for businesses that returned their first PPP loan or did not get the full amount for which they qualified

PPP2 Loan Eligibility

Eligible small businesses may include:

  • Small businesses, nonprofit organizations, veterans organizations, Tribal business concerns, and small agricultural cooperatives that meet the SBA size standards
  • Sole proprietors, self employed individuals or independent contractors
  • New: Certain small news organizations, destination marketing organizations, housing cooperatives, and 501(c)(6) nonprofits may now also be eligible

Previous PPP recipients may apply for another loan of up to $2 million, if they:

  • Have 300 or fewer employees
  • Have used or will use the full amount of their first PPP loan
  • Can show a 25% gross revenue decline in any 2020 quarter compared with the same quarter in 2019 (note: there are instructions for business operating by 2/15/2020 that did not exist in early 2019)
  • Returned all or a part of a previous PPP loan

PPP2 will permit first-time borrowers that are:

  • Nonprofit organizations, including churches
  • Businesses with 500 or fewer employees that are eligible for other SBA 7(a) loans
  • Sole proprietors, independent contractors, and eligible self-employed individuals.

Calculating a 25% Reduction in Revenue

Compare gross receipts (before expenses are subtracted) for any quarter in 2020 to the same quarter in 2019 to determine if revenues decreased by at least 25% (note: there are instructions for business operating by 2/15/2020 that did not exist in early 2019).

For Small PPP2 Loans (of up to $150,000)

  • For loans of up to $150,000 the organization can simply certify the revenue loss in the application. Before the organization can apply for forgiveness, however, it will have to produce documentation of the revenue loss. Please look for additional guidance from SBA in the weeks to come.
  • The statute creates simplified forgiveness for loans of $150,000 or less. The SBA Administrator has 24 days after the law’s enactment on December 27 to release a new one-page forgiveness application for loans of $150,000 or less — which includes loans under both the first round and the new PPP2.

PPP2 Loans and Payroll Costs

  • A business may qualify for up to 2.5 times average monthly payroll costs.
  • Borrowers will need to spend at least 60% of loan proceeds funding on qualified payroll expenses.
  • Payroll is defined essentially the same way as in the CARES Act.
  • An individual employee cannot earn in excess of $100,000 annually, as prorated for the covered period.
  • Borrowers may spend up to 40% on other qualified non-payroll expenses, during the covered period. The list of eligible non-payroll expenses includes:
    • Rent
    • Mortgage interest
    • Utilities
    • Covered operations expenditure
    • Covered property damage cost
    • Covered supplier cost
    • Covered worker protection expenditure

PPP2 Loan Forgiveness

  • It appears that PPP2 loans may be entirely forgiven if spent for the proper purposes during the permitted time period.
  • There are currently three PPP loan forgiveness applications (Form 3508Form 3508EZ, and Form 3508S)
  • SBA is likely to revise or provide new loan forgiveness applications for PPP2.

Other Information

Like the original PPP under the CARES Act, there is no credit check required, there is no personal guarantee, and normal SBA collateral requirements are waived.

The President signed the legislation on December 27, 2020 and the SBA Administrator has ten days to issue regulations. At this time, we expect these loans to be available in early January.

Other resources approved in the bill include:

Coronavirus Relief Agreement Reached After Months of Uncertainty

A brief eviction moratorium, $25 billion in rent aid, Paycheck Protection Program loans, supplemental unemployment benefits and checks to individuals are among the many provisions included in the relief bill signed into law by President Trump on December 27, 2020 after months of negotiations among congressional leaders and the White House. The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act was rolled together with provisions to fund the government for the rest of fiscal year 2021 and several other measures.

The following list summarizes some of the bill’s key provisions relevant for affordable rural housing providers. HAC will provide more details as they become available.

  • Eviction moratorium: extends the Centers for Disease Control’s moratorium through January 31, 2021, without making any changes to the CDC’s language;
  • Rent assistance: provides $25 billion to be distributed to states, local governments and tribes by the Treasury Department to be used for up to 15 months of past or future housing costs for renters with incomes under 80 percent of area median; there are no additional funds for HUD or USDA housing programs;
  • Coronavirus Relief Fund deadline: extends the deadline for states, localities and tribes to use CRF funds provided by the CARES Act, so they can continue spending that money through December 31, 2021 instead of December 31, 2020;
  • Unemployment benefits: extends federal unemployment compensation, which will provide $300 per week through March 14, 2021 in addition to unemployment insurance payments provided by states;
  • Cash payments to individuals: provides $600 for individuals making less than $75,000 per year or $1,200 per couple making up to $150,000 plus $600 per child;
  • Paycheck Protection Program: adds new funding and makes some changes to the Paycheck Protection Program and other aid for small businesses;
  • Rural broadband: provides funding for broadband, including some targeted to rural areas;
  • CDFIs: creates an Emergency Capital Investment Program with $9 billion for lenders, including Community Development Financial Institutions and minority depository institutions, to invest in places disproportionately impacted by the pandemic;
  • Low Income Housing Tax Credit: sets 4 percent as the floor for the 4 percent housing credit, a change that is estimated to finance an additional 130,000 rental units in the next ten years.
Covid-19 Cases Per 100,000 Outside Metropolitan Areas - 10-24-2020

Over 1 Million Covid-19 Cases in Rural America – 24,000 Deaths

After nine months since the first COVID 19 case was reported in a rural community, there are 1.2 million rural cases, and rural deaths from the virus are now consistently above 25 percent of the daily national total.  

UPDATE: COVID-19 in Rural America – October 24, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is a global health crisis affecting nearly every community – including rural America. While there are still many uncertainties, the health crisis changes daily and the pandemic’s impact on rural communities continues to grow and evolve. The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) presents summary findings of COVID-19 in rural America after nine months since the first reported case outside of metropolitan areas on February 20, 2020.

Covid-19 Reported Cases Outside Metropolitan Areas, October 24, 2020

MORE THAN 1 MILLION RURAL AMERICANS HAVE BEEN INFECTED WITH COVID-19

Total Reported COVID-19 Cases February 20- October 24, 2020

The first reported case of COVID-19 outside of metropolitan areas came on February 20, 2020. As of October 24, 2020, there were more than 1.1 million reported cases of COVID-19 and approximately 24,000 associated deaths in communities outside of metropolitan areas. All but four counties outside of metropolitan areas now have reported COVID-19 cases, and over 80 percent of outside metro counties have also reported associated deaths related to the virus.

 

<

 

RURAL CASES ARE AT THEIR HIGHEST LEVELS SINCE THE PANDEMIC BEGAN

Newly Reported COVID-19 Cases February 20 – October 24, 2020

Nationally, the number of new COVID-19 cases have begun to increase again and reported rural cases have also grown to some of their highest levels since the pandemic began. Between October 11 and October 24, rural areas reported an average of 12,807 cases per day – an upward trend of about 30 percent in the past 14-day period. Similarly, rural reported COVID related deaths were up to an average of 217 per day compared to 172 deaths per day over the previous two-week period.

RURAL COVID CASES NOW OUTPACE THE OUTSIDE METROPOLITAN POPULATION AS A WHOLE

Rural Share of COVID-19 Reported Cases

Initial impacts of COVID-19 were greatest in urban communities and these areas still have the largest share of cases and deaths. Since February 20, 2020, about 14 percent of the total reported COVID-19 cases were identified in rural communities. But the rural share of COVID-19 cases continues to rise nationally. On August 24, 2020, approximately 17 percent of new COVID-19 cases and 19 percent of deaths were reported in rural communities. On October 24, 2020, 21 percent of new cases and 34 percent of new deaths were reported outside of metropolitan areas.

RURAL COVID-19 CASES ARE HIGHEST IN THE SOUTH AND INCREASING IN THE UPPER MIDWEST

Reported Rural COVID-19 Rates per 100,000

Over 99 percent of counties outside of Metropolitan areas have reported COVID-19 cases, but the virus’ impacts vary widely across the nation’s rural geography. There have been several instances of extremely high per-capita infection rates in rural areas – notably on some Native American lands and communities with meat packing and correctional facilities.  From September 24- October 24, the rural case and death rates increased most dramatically in the plains and upper Midwest, as well as in some Appalachian and southern communities.

COVID-19 Reported Case Rates Per 100,000 Outside of Metropolitan Areas - October 24, 2020

About the Data

The information in this brief derives from Housing Assistance Council tabulations of data from The New York Times, based on reports from state and local health agencies, and the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2014-2018 American Community Survey.

In these analyses, the terms “rural” and Outside Metropolitan Areas are synonymous and refer to counties and counts outside of OMB designated Metropolitan Areas. 

The Housing Assistance Council is a national nonprofit organization that helps build homes and communities across rural America. 
www.ruralhome.org