NMHC president Doug Bibby LV Photo

Housing leaders are looking ahead at what is needed on all levels to combat the COVID-19 crisis.

“Now more than ever we have to first protect and house people who are homeless, prevent more people from becoming homeless, and preserve the limited affordable housing that exists in our country,” Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), told attendees of the Urban Land Institute “Confronting COVID-19 in Multifamily Housing” webinar. “Just from unemployment numbers alone, we know the need for affordable housing will increase. It’s too soon to tell just how bad it’s going to get, but clearly it’s going to become worse.”

The $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was a start in providing aid, she said. However, “it’s not enough, we’re going to need more than that.”

The biggest relief package in history included significant funding to assist homeless shelters, public housing, and other vital housing programs.

Doug Bibby, president of the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC), agreed that more needs to be done for both renters and multifamily owners and operators.

“There’s a lot of stress out there. [The CARES Act] was severely lacking with connection to housing,” said Bibby. “We are all working toward the fixes and the new asks in what will be a disaster relief package.”

The NMHC has called for an emergency housing assistance fund for renter households; financial assistance and modification of the multifamily forbearance and eviction moratorium provisions in the CARES Act; an expansion of the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program to include multifamily businesses; enactment of the Multifamily Depreciation Parity Act; and an infrastructure investment packages that promote housing construction and rehabilitation.

Yentel said the NLIHC also is working with the leadership and members of Congress with a goal of getting at least $11.5 billion of additional emergency solutions grants, a national and uniform moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, and $100 billion for emergency rental assistance and eviction prevention. Additional needs include a moratorium on homeless encampment sweeps, emergency funds for public housing and other Department of Housing and Urban Development-subsidized housing, and access to legal services and housing counseling.

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