Long-Overdue COVID-19 Relief Bill Passes
On Sunday, December 27, President Trump signed Congress’ long-overdue $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill (summary) as an amendment to the annual budget agreement for fiscal year 2021. Last week President Trump threatened to not sign the bill, creating unnecessary chaos and a lapse in unemployment benefits. The bipartisan relief bill includes a short extension to the eviction moratorium and modest rental assistance. (See our summary of key provisions and details of the housing provisions from our partners.) Since Congress passed $4 trillion of COVID-19 relief in the spring of 2020, negotiations for additional assistance have stalled. In the meantime, the delay has caused an immense level of stress on millions of low-income people who are facing imminent eviction.
“Congress did the bare minimum at the 11th hour and then left to go home for the holidays,” says Barbara DiPietro, Senior Director of Policy at NHCHC. “This avoids immediate catastrophe, but there is still a lot of work to do to get people the health care and housing assistance they need. Without further action, Congress is putting lives at risk.”
The bill provides $25 billion in rental assistance, a one-month extension of the federal eviction moratorium, $300 per week of expanded unemployment benefits through mid-March, $600 stimulus checks for individuals, additional food assistance, funds for health care providers and vaccine distribution, and more. With up to $70 billion of overdue rent and clear evidence that evictions lead to increased COVID-19 infections and deaths, the bill falls short of what is needed to help the Health Care for the Homeless Community face a winter filled with challenges and continued economic devastation.
“I am glad to see there is a relief bill, but I am still very worried. How will we pay rent in February or buy food? Much more financial assistance is needed. I hope our lawmakers can understand that this is a fragile time and hardship is not going away because they passed one bill,” says Art Rios Sr., Chair of NHCHC’s National Consumer Advisory Board.
This aid package is extremely important for the health and safety of our country, but it fails to provide peace of mind for struggling American families and health care providers. More is needed. We call on Congress to substantially increase housing aid in order to help the millions of people currently living in poverty and on the brink of homelessness.
Contact: Regina Reed, Health Policy Manager, (443) 703-1337, email@example.com
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