President-elect Joe Biden tonight proposed a $1.9 trillion economic rescue package in response to the devastating health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The relief package is very broad. Key areas of note to the housing industry include:
The plan would follow through on a Democratic pledge to provide $2,000 direct payments to individuals by providing $1,400 in direct funds on top of the $600 approved by Congress last month.
The plan approved by Congress last month provides $300 per week in unemployment benefits through mid-March. Biden's plan would increase the benefits to $400 and extend it through the end of September. It also extends benefits for self-employed individuals and gig workers, and those who have exhausted their regular jobless benefits.
The proposal would extend the eviction and foreclosure moratorium through the end of September. It would also provide an additional $25 billion in rental assistance on top of the $25 billion that Congress approved in December. The plan also calls for $5 billion to help people cover home energy and water costs and provides $5 billion to states and localities to offer emergency housing for families facing homelessness.
Biden is proposing to leverage $35 billion in government funds into $175 billion in low-interest loans for small businesses. He is also calling for $15 billion in grants for small businesses.
Biden is pushing for $350 billion in funding assistance for state, local and territorial governments plus $20 billion for public transit systems. States and cities facing serious budget shortfalls warn they'll be forced to make deep cuts to public health, safety and education programs without more funding.
Biden is calling on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.
The Biden plan would create a requirement for employers, regardless of size, to offer paid sick leave during the pandemic to workers. Parents and family members caring for sick relatives or out-of-school children could receive more than 14 weeks of paid sick and family leave.
The plan would provide benefits of up to $1,400 per week and tax credits for employers with fewer than 500 employees to reimburse them for the cost of the leave.
Tax Credits, Childcare
Biden would expand tax credits for low- and middle- income families and make them refundable for 2021. He is proposing to expand the child tax credit to $3,000 from $2,000 for each child 17 and younger. Children under age six would be eligible for $3,600.
Biden's plan includes $20 billion to create a national vaccine distribution program that would offer free shots to all U.S. residents regardless of immigration status. The plan would create community vaccination centers and deploy mobile vaccination units to remote areas.
Biden is also calling for $50 billion to ramp up testing efforts, including purchasing rapid-result tests, expanding lab capacity and helping local jurisdictions implement testing regimens.
The plan would also provide $170 billion to help schools reopen. Biden has said this would allow many parents, particularly women, to rejoin the labor market after dropping out to care for their children at home. About $130 billion would go to K-12 schools, roughly $35 billion would go to public colleges, including community colleges, and $5 billion would be earmarked to help governors direct funds to schools most hard-hit by the virus