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Rice, Heck, Peters, Torres Lead Letter to Congressional Leadership Calling for Expanded Mortgage Relief and Housing Assistance

Letter requests additional housing protections and resources be included in next COVID-19 relief bill to prevent increases in evictions and foreclosures

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Washington, August 1, 2020 | comments

WASHINGTON – With housing payments and rent due for many Americans today on the first of the month, Representatives Kathleen Rice (NY-04), Denny Heck (WA-10), Scott Peters (CA-52), and Norma Torres (CA-35) led a letter to Congressional leadership in both chambers calling for the inclusion of key mortgage relief and housing assistance measures in the next COVID-19 relief bill. All four Representatives are members of the New Democrat Coalition Housing Task Force, with Torres and Heck serving as co-chairs.

Specifically, the letter requests that critical housing provisions included in the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, which passed the House of Representatives on May 15, be incorporated into the forthcoming compromise legislation that is currently being negotiated by the House and Senate. These include:

  • Expanding the mortgage forbearance and foreclosure relief for homeowners and multifamily property owners with federally backed mortgages in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to include all covered mortgage loans.
  • Explicitly specifying the loan modifications and loss mitigation available to homeowners following a mortgage moratorium to prevent any homeowner from facing a lump sum payment.
  • Extending the 120-day eviction moratorium provided under the CARES Act to one year.
  • Providing funding for rental assistance and emergency housing programs to protect renters and support individuals and families experiencing homelessness.

“Today is August 1st – a day that too many families have been dreading because it either means rent or yet another mortgage payment is due,” said Rep. Kathleen Rice. “In May, we passed the HEROES Act which would have provided urgent assistance to these struggling families. Expanded mortgage relief and housing assistance is long overdue, and I strongly urge leadership in the House and Senate to include it in the next relief package.” 

“Today marks the first of the month, and with it another month of inaction by the Senate on critical provisions passed by the House to keep Americans stably housed throughout this pandemic,” said New Democrat Coalition Housing Task Force Co-Chair Rep. Denny Heck. “We must support homeowners facing mortgage payments, get immediate relief to families who are struggling to make rent, and help sustain the housing ecosystem through this difficult time.”

“Even before the pandemic hurled our economy into a recession, we knew that addressing housing insecurity was one of the most pressing issues facing San Diegans,” said Rep. Scott Peters. “It’s crucial we stabilize the housing ecosystem and provide support for the thousands of American renters and homeowners who are financially strapped due to the COVID-19 crisis. I urge leaders in both chambers to include these measures in the next relief package.”


“One of the most important things we can do to protect Americans from COVID-19 is help keep as many as possible with a roof overhead,” said New Democrat Coalition Housing Task Force Co-Chair Rep. Norma Torres. “Many of the housing provisions in the Heroes Act will save American lives, and that’s all the justification we need to demand their inclusion in the next support package. I’ proud to stand with Reps. Rice and Heck to urge negotiators not to waver on them.”

The full text of the letter can be found here and below: 

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader McCarthy, Leader McConnell and Leader Schumer:

We write to respectfully request that any forthcoming COVID-19 legislative package include critical housing provisions provided under the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act to protect homeowners and renters during this challenging time. We must make housing stability a top priority to prevent this pandemic from creating a new foreclosure and eviction crisis in the United States. Extending and expanding mortgage relief and housing assistance will help to ensure the continued stability of our nation’s housing market during this crisis.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act took significant steps to protect homeowners, tenants, and multi-family housing providers by granting forbearance on federally-backed mortgages and establishing a 120-day eviction moratorium. However, further federal action is necessary to avoid significant increases in eviction and foreclosure rates. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, during the first week of July, approximately twenty-five percent of Americans reported either not having made the last month’s rent or mortgage payment or having little to no confidence that they can pay the next month’s rent or mortgage on time. Unfortunately, these rates are expected to continue rising and will only be exacerbated by the rapidly expiring relief provisions established under the CARES Act.

The HEROES Act includes several critical provisions to assist homeowners experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 crisis. The legislation expands the forbearance and foreclosure relief for homeowners and multifamily property owners with federally backed mortgages in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to include all covered mortgage loans. While the CARES Act provided relief for federally backed mortgages, about thirty percent of the single-family mortgage market and almost fifty percent of the multifamily market are not federally backed. Expanding the availability of loan forbearance beyond federally backed mortgages will ensure struggling homeowners and multifamily property owners have access to the support they need.

The measure passed in the House further improves the forbearance relief provided to homeowners in the CARES Act. Despite federal guidance issued on the forbearance and repayment requirements, there has been significant confusion about the various repayment and loan modification options available to borrowers through their mortgage servicers. As a result, many homeowners were concerned that they would be required to make lump sum repayments at the end of a forbearance period. To address this issue, the HEROES Act specifies the loan modifications and loss mitigation that should be available to homeowners following a mortgage moratorium to prevent any homeowner from facing a lump sum payment that they cannot afford.

Additionally, Congress must address the need for further investments in rental assistance and emergency housing programs. The HEROES Act extends the 120-day eviction moratorium provided under the CARES Act to one year to protect renters from evictions during this crisis. It also includes critical provisions to strengthen emergency rental assistance by creating a fund to assist renters facing financial hardship and providing additional funding for Emergency Solutions Grants to aid those experiencing homelessness. With families and housing providers facing unprecedented financial strains, further assistance will be necessary to prevent a housing crisis that impacts millions of Americans and exacerbates the already dire economic conditions facing our country.

We appreciate your leadership on the initial legislative packages to support critical housing resources. In the interest of supporting America’s working families and multifamily housing providers, we urge you to include provisions that would expand and improve housing relief in the next COVID-19 legislative package. We must ensure that homeowners, tenants, and multi-family housing providers are protected both during and after this national health emergency.

Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to continuing our work together to support our nation’s homeowners.

Sincerely,

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