With talks stalled between Democrats and Republicans on a new coronavirus economic relief package, President Trump on Aug. 8 acted unilaterally by signing one executive order and three presidential memorandum to federal agencies.
The executive order provides assistance to renters and home owners, and states that the administration will "take all lawful measures to prevent residential evictions and foreclosures resulting from financial hardships caused by COVID-19." Based on the limited information in the executive order, NAHB believes this will apply only to properties with federally backed mortgages or Department of Housing and Urban Development programs covered by the Violence Against Women Act. HUD and other agencies will release additional information.
Under the order, the secretary of the Treasury and the secretary of Housing and Urban Development "shall identify any and all available federal funds to provide temporary financial assistance to renters and home owners who, as a result of the financial hardships caused by COVID-19, are struggling to meet their monthly rental or mortgage obligations."
The order also calls on the HUD secretary to "promote the ability of renters and home owners to avoid eviction or foreclosure resulting from financial hardships caused by COVID-19. Such action may include encouraging and providing assistance to public housing authorities, affordable housing owners, landlords, and recipients of federal grant funds in minimizing evictions and foreclosures."
One executive action would provide $400 per week in unemployment benefits. The CARES Act provided $600 per week in unemployment benefits but this provision expired on July 31.
Another directive provides student aid relief by deferring student loan payments through the end of the year and forgiving their interest.
The final presidential action will institute a payroll tax deduction for those earning $100,000 or less effective Aug. 1 through the end of the year.
The situation still remains fluid, as Democrats have pledged to file a legal challenge to the executive orders that circumvent Congress, which is invested with the "power of the purse."
NAHB is urging Republicans and Democrats to keep working on a legislative compromise.
We continue to call on Congress to pass a rental assistance plan targeted to tenants most economically impacted by the pandemic and allow funds to be disbursed directly to landlords. This will keep tenants in their homes and ensure landlords can pay their mortgage, property taxes and employees and cleaning/maintenance services. With rental assistance filling in any funding gap, there would be no need for a blanket eviction moratorium, which would harm the rental housing market.
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