U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand joined bicameral calls for Congress to prioritize the needs of homeless and housing insecure Americans by providing robust funding in the next coronavirus relief package. As a cosponsor of the Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act of 2020, Senator Gillibrand is pushing Congress to establish an Emergency Rental Assistance program to provide $100 billion in emergency rental assistance to help families and individuals pay their rent and remain housed during and after the coronavirus pandemic. Gillibrand has also cosponsored the Public Health Emergency Shelter Act, which would provide an additional $11.5 billion in critical funding to state and local governments to respond to the needs of families and individuals experiencing homelessness during this crisis. While the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided $4 billion for the Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) program, experts have confirmed that at least $15.5 billion is needed to sufficiently meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness.
“This pandemic has caused steep and unique barriers for New Yorkers experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity,” said Senator Gillibrand. “It is our job as public servants to protect our most vulnerable and we must ensure that at-risk Americans are able to remain housed and have access to housing and shelters during this crisis. We must also provide assistance to recently unemployed families and individuals to ensure that they can pay rent during and after this crisis. I’m proud to push for these critical pieces of legislation and I will work to include them in the next relief package.”
Before the coronavirus pandemic, a quarter of the nation’s 44 million renters paid more than half of their incomes for housing, often putting them one emergency away from eviction. The crisis has exposed these renters, and millions more recently unemployed Americans, to the threat of housing insecurity and eviction. While the CARES Act provides a temporary eviction moratorium to protect renters from immediate displacement, it only applies to properties with federal backing or subsidies, leaving many renters at immediate risk of eviction if they cannot pay their rent. Additionally, half a million people in the United States face homelessness including more than 50,000 families with children, who often turn to emergency shelters for housing. These families are even more vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic, as a new report estimates individuals experiencing homelessness who contract coronavirus will be twice as likely to be hospitalized, up to four times as likely to need critical care, and two to three times as likely to die as the general population.
The Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act of 2020 and Public Health Emergency Shelter Act will provide two streams of essential funding to ensure shelter and protection for at-risk Americans. Specifically, the Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act of 2020 would authorize $100 billion for an Emergency Rental Assistance program to help families and individuals pay their rent and utility bills and remain housed during and after the COVID-19 crisis. The program would send funds to communities, states, and tribes through an existing federal temporary rental assistance program to facilitate the rapid distribution of funds through an already-available administrative and reporting system.
The Public Health Emergency Shelter Act would provide essential ESG funding to help states, localities, and nonprofits react quickly to the needs of vulnerable homeless communities through rapid rehousing and expedited long-term rehousing. These programs would decrease the density of, and reliance on, temporary shelters. The $11.5 billion in funding could also be used for sanitation efforts such as portable hand-washing stations and the purchase of hand sanitizer and personal protective equipment, so that individuals can follow the health practices recommended by public health experts to halt the spread of coronavirus.
Full text of the Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act of 2020 can be found here.
Full text of the Public Health Emergency Shelter Act can be foundhere.