Resources Related to Coronavirus and Rural Housing

On this page HAC collects the latest news on USDA policy, federal relief and stimulus funds, stakeholder recommendations and more to help local rural housing organizations respond.

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

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Coronavirus impact survey from the Federal Reserve System

The Federal Reserve System is circulatng the following message and survey in an attempt to better understand the impact of Coronavirus in vulnerable communities. Please submit your responses to  make sure that underserved rural communities have their voices represented.  The survey will close at 11:59 Eastern time on Friday April 10.

The spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the many efforts to slow it are affecting communities throughout the United States. At the Federal Reserve, we are committed to supporting people and businesses with every tool we have. But, to do so effectively requires a deep understanding of conditions on the ground.

We need your help. The Federal Reserve System is conducting a survey to understand better the range of challenges facing under resourced and low-income communities. It will also help us understand how this crisis is affecting organizations, like yours, that are supporting community needs.

Please take this survey today. The survey should take about 10 minutes to complete. If you have received the invitation to complete the survey from another Federal Reserve entity, please only take the survey once.

Start Survey
The survey will close at 11:59 p.m. EST / 8:59 p.m. PST on Friday, April 10, 2020

Thank you very much for your time and participation,

Resources Related to Coronavirus and the Arts in Rural America

As a key partner in the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design, HAC knows the pandemic threatens community arts in rural America. Updates and resources are posted here.

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

HAC’s page on governance, planning and CARES Act information for rural nonprofits is here.



Third Coronavirus Relief Bill Stops Evictions, Funds HUD But Not USDA Housing

Several HUD programs receive funding boosts under the latest coronavirus relief package. USDA tenants and homeowners – along with those assisted by other federal programs – are protected from eviction, although no additional funds are provided for USDA’s rural housing programs.

Check out HAC’s coronavirus resource pages here.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, H.R. 748, passed the Senate on March 25 and the House on March 27. President Trump is expected to sign it. A fourth relief/stimulus measure is likely in the future, and could include additional housing provisions, but it is not clear when such a bill might be considered. The House and Senate will both go out of session after voting on the CARES Act.

Tenant Protections

The CARES Act establishes a 120-day moratorium on beginning proceedings to evict tenants for nonpayment of rent or other charges. (Tenants could still be evicted for other reasons.) Landlords also may not charge fees or penalties for nonpayment of rent during this time period. The 120-day period will start when President Trump signs the bill.

Protected tenants are those living in rental properties that receive any type of federal assistance, including USDA’s Section 515, Section 514/516 and Section 538 programs. (The bill uses different language for provisions referring to rental properties of one to four units and those with five or more units, but the protections are the same for tenants in properties of any size.)

The bill’s moratorium applies only to new evictions. It does not stop evictions that are already in process when the bill takes effect.

Many states and localities have imposed more stringent eviction moratoria. It is not clear whether those measures would supersede the CARES Act’s provisions. If a state or locality has a less stringent moratorium, the CARES Act would apply.

Rental Property Owner Protections

Owners of rental properties with five or more units and federally backed mortgages can request forbearance if they were current on mortgage payments as of February 1. An owner must contact the company or agency to which they make mortgage payments and say they are experiencing financial hardship. The mortgage company or agency must provide forbearance for 30 days. The property owner can request two additional 30-day forbearance periods.

Homeowner Protections

The CARES Act imposes a moratorium on foreclosures for homeowners with mortgages backed by any federal programs. This seems to apply to foreclosures that have already begun as well as new ones. It takes effect on March 18 and lasts for 60 days.

The bill does not provide automatic protection for homeowners who have difficulty meeting their mortgage payments, but it gives them the right to request forbearance from their mortgage lender, with an explanation that they are experiencing financial hardship because of the coronavirus crisis. The lender is required to grant forbearance for up to 180 days, with an extension of another 180 days if needed. The homeowner will still need to make the payments eventually.

These provisions apply to homeowners with mortgages made or guaranteed by USDA under Section 502, as well as to those with mortgages insured or guaranteed by HUD’s Section 184 program for Native Americans and Alaska Natives and 184A program for Native Hawaiians, FHA (including home equity conversion mortgages, often called “reverse” mortgages), or VA. And it applies to mortgages purchased by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Most home mortgages in the U.S. are backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, but a mortgage issued by a community-based bank in a rural area may not be. Information about how to determine whether your mortgage is backed by a federal agency is provided here by the National Consumer Law Center.

Any homebuyer with coronavirus-related mortgage concerns should immediately contact the bank or agency where they send mortgage payments to discuss a forbearance agreement.

Letter from HAC CEO David Lipsetz

Dear Friends,

As a global community, we face an unprecedented challenge in the coming weeks and months as the COVID-19 pandemic moves through our cities, towns, and rural places. In the high-needs rural regions where HAC has worked for nearly 50 years, this challenge will be acutely felt. Rural communities are resilient, but face unique challenges with access to health care, services, broadband, and other basic social safety nets. Both on the ground and in Washington D.C., we are working with policymakers, partners, and funders to determine the best ways to continue to support the rural places and people we serve.

Like many of our friends and partners, HAC staff will be working remotely in the coming weeks to protect the health of our team and to do our part to help slow the spread of the virus in our communities. We are also limiting non-essential travel, events, in-person meetings. But rest assured, HAC staff are working hard and are ready to help in any way we can.

We also recognize that our local partners will likely face additional pressure to respond to the needs of the rural communities you serve. As always, we will be as responsive and flexible as possible and work hand-in-hand with you as this situation progresses.

We encourage you to check back regularly, as this page will be updated to include relevant resources as they become available.

Please reach out to any HAC staff member if you have questions.

Be well,

David Lipsetz, CEO