The House of Representatives has joined the Senate in passing a sweeping $1.9 trillion relief package that includes more than $27.4 billion in rental assistance.
The House approved the American Rescue Plan Act on a party-line vote of 220-211 today, following the Senate’s sharply divided vote on Saturday. President Joe Biden is expected to sign the legislation later this week, giving him the first major legislative victory of his early presidency.
Praised by affordable housing advocates, the rental assistance includes $21.55 billion for emergency rental assistance funded through the Coronavirus Relief Fund; $5 billion for emergency housing vouchers; $750 million through the Native American Housing Block Grant, Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant, and Indian Community Development Block Grant programs; and $100 million to assist rural households living in U.S. Department of Agriculture-financed properties.
Other housing measures in the bill include $5 billion for homelessness assistance, $10 billion for homeowner assistance, $100 million for housing counseling through NeighborWorks America, and $20 million for fair housing activities, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
These programs add up to more than $42.5 billion for housing in the package. Plus, there’s additional funding for utility assistance and services for homeless youth.
“The American Rescue Plan provides our nation with much-needed resources to help continue to weather the pandemic-induced economic storm,” said Adrianne Todman, CEO of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials. “We note in particular the $5 billion in new funding for emergency housing vouchers, which will allow housing agencies nationwide to work with local partners and landlords to provide shelter to homeless individuals, survivors of domestic violence, and those at high risk of homelessness. We are also thankful for the inclusion of $21.55 billion in emergency housing and rental assistance, which will help more people who are facing housing insecurity.”
National Apartment Association president and CEO Bob Pinnegar and National Multifamily Housing Council president Doug Bibby applauded the passage of the COVID stimulus package.
“The assistance included in this legislation will prove critical during the coming weeks and months for keeping residents safely and securely housed and ensuring the nation’s rental housing market remains stable,” said the executives in joint statement. “However, the potential for ongoing eviction moratoriums at national, state, and local levels jeopardizes that stability as they do nothing to address underlying financial distress nor speak to the continuing housing affordability challenges facing our country.”