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Healthy Homes & COVID-19

Policy, Regulatory and Funding Updates

These summaries outline some of the most recent federal policy changes in the evolving response to COVID-19, which may impact communities, organizations, and families.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act [1]

In general, employees of private-sector employers with fewer than 500 employees, and certain public sector employers, are eligible for up to two weeks of fully or partially paid sick leave for COVID-19 related reasons. Employees who have been employed for at least 30 days prior to their leave request may be eligible for up to an additional 10 weeks of partially paid expanded family and medical leave if caring for his or her child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) due to COVID-19 related reasons. Qualifying employees will receive up to two weeks (80 hours, or a part-time employee’s two-week equivalent) of paid sick leave based on the higher of their regular rate of pay, or the applicable state or federal minimum wage. A part-time employee is eligible for leave for the number of hours that the employee is normally scheduled to work over that period. If the employee is unable to work, including unable to telework, then the employee may qualify for leave under this Act if the employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19; has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19; is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis; is caring for an individual who is subject to quarantine; is caring for his or her child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) due to COVID-19 related reasons; or is experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Highlights of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act [2]

  • DIRECT SUPPORT TO INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES
    1. Give direct payments of up to $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for couples, with $500 added for every child under 17, based on 2019 tax returns for those who filed them and 2018 information, if they have not. The benefit would start to phase out above an adjusted gross income of $75,000 in income for individuals and $150,000 for couples, going away completely at the $99,000 and $198,000 thresholds, respectively. Retirees and some students may also receive checks so long as they are not claimed as “dependent” by someone else. The Administration has targeted April 6 as the payment date, although tax experts and others suggest that the checks will be received in early May.
    2. Boost unemployment insurance, adding $600 per week for up to four months on top of what beneficiaries normally receive from states. It expands eligibility to self-employed people and independent contractors.
    3. Require group health plans and insurance providers to cover preventive services related to coronavirus without cost-sharing.
    4. Provide housing protections against foreclosures on mortgages and evictions for renters. Anyone facing financial hardship from coronavirus shall be given a forbearance on a federally backed mortgage loan of up to 60 days, which can be extended for four periods of 30 days each. Servicers of federally backed mortgage loans may not begin the foreclosure process for 60 days from March 18. No fees, penalties or additional interest is allowed to be charged as a result of delayed payments. It includes similar protections for those with multifamily federal mortgage loans, allowing them to receive a 30-day forbearance and up to two 30-day extensions. Those with federally backed mortgage loans who have tenants would also not be allowed to evict tenants solely for failure to pay rent for a 120-day period, and they may not charge fees or penalties to tenants for failing to pay rent.
  • SUPPORT TO BUSINESSES, STATES, AND MUNICIPALITIES (Provides $339.855 billion, more than 80% of the total, to state and local governments and communities)
    1. Create a $500 billion pool of taxpayer money to make loans, loan guarantees or investments to or in businesses, states and municipalities damaged by the crisis.
    2. Provide additional funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) and Child Nutrition Program (SNAP), but eligibility and benefits will not be expanded.
    3. Include a tax credit for retaining employees, worth up to 50% of wages paid during the crisis, for businesses forced to suspend operations or that have seen gross receipts fall by 50% from the previous year.
    4. Delay payroll tax for employers, requiring half of the deferred tax to be paid by the end of 2021 and the other half by the end of 2022
  • SUPPORT TO HOSPITALS
      1. Put $117 billion into hospitals and veterans’ health care.
      2. Eliminate $8 billion in scheduled payment reductions to hospitals caring for large numbers of uninsured and Medicaid patients, as well as temporarily removing a 2% cut for treating Medicare patients, which was part of the automatic budget cuts under sequestration.
      3. Provide $16 billion for the strategic national stockpile of pharmaceutical and medical supplies.

Relevant Grants for States and Localities

  • Economic Development Administration of the Department of Commerce: $1.5 billion to support economic development grants for states and communities suffering economic injury as a result of the coronavirus.
  • Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) of the Department of Homeland Security: $400 million for grants that can be disbursed in a timely manner for firefighters, emergency managers, and providers of emergency food and shelter.
  • Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention of HHS: State and Local Preparedness Grants: $1.5 billion in designated funding for state and local preparedness and response activities. When combined with the first supplemental, Congress has provided $2.5 billion for state and local needs.
  • Child Care and Development Block Grant from the Administration for Children and Families$3.5 billion in grants to states for immediate assistance to child care providers to prevent them from going out of business and to otherwise support child care for families, including for healthcare workers, first responders, and others playing critical roles during this crisis.
  • Community Services Block Grant from the Administration for Children and Families: $1 billion in direct funding to local community-based organizations to provide a wide range of social services and emergency assistance for those who need it most.
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program from the Administration for Children and Families: $900 million in grants to states to support immediate home energy assistance for low-income households affected by the coronavirus.
  • Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): $5 billion to provide communities and states with funding to provide a wide range of resources to address COVID-19, such as services for senior citizens, the homeless, and public health services. Funding will be distributed using formula.
  • Homeless Assistance Grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): $4 billion to enable state and local governments to address coronavirus among the homeless population. These grants, in combination with additional waiver authority, will provide effective, targeted assistance to contain the spread of coronavirus among homeless individuals. These grants will also provide state and local governments with homelessness prevention funding for individuals and families who would otherwise become homeless due to coronavirus.

Relevant Support for States and Localities

  • Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) of the Department of Homeland Security: $45 billion to continue FEMA’s entire suite of response and recovery activities and reimbursements provided to states and localities nationwide by the Disaster Relief Fund for emergency and major disaster declarations.
  • Dislocated Worker National Reserve of the Department of Labor: $345 million for states and communities to respond to the workforce impacts and layoffs resulting from the coronavirus.
  • Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund of the Department of Health and Human Services: Health Resources and Services Administration: $275 million to expand services and capacity for rural hospitals, telehealth, poison control centers, and the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program. Language is also included to allow Community Health Centers to use FY2020 funding to maintain or increase staffing and capacity to address the coronavirus.
  • Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units and State Health Agencies of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry: $5 millionto add capacity to provide guidance and outreach on best disinfectant and protective practices for homes, schools, and daycare facilities
  • Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund of the Department of Health and Human Services: Strategic National Stockpile: $16 billion to procure personal protective equipment, ventilators, and other medical supplies for federal and state response efforts.
  • Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund of the Department of Health and Human Services: Includes at least $3.5 billion to advance construction, manufacturing, and purchase of vaccines and therapeutic delivery to the American people.
  • Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention of HHS: Resources are provided for public health preparedness and response, which includes funding to state and local public health responders (including reimbursement of funds used thus far in response to the coronavirus), as well as enhanced nationwide surveillance, diagnostics, laboratory support, communication campaigns to the public, guidance to physicians and health care workers, and global health preparedness.
  • HUD Administrative Expenses – $50 million to ensure that HUD’s programs are able to continue serving low-income vulnerable populations, while also providing states and local governments with resources to contain and respond to the coronavirus.

Relevant Support for Hospitals, Healthcare Providers, and Elder Care Providers

  • Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund of the Department of Health and Human Services: Reimbursement to Hospitals & Healthcare Providers ($100 billion) to ensure healthcare providers continue to receive the support they need for COVID-19 related expenses and lost revenue.
  • Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund of the Department of Health and Human Services: Hospital Preparedness: Not less than $250 million to improve the capacity of healthcare facilities to respond to medical events.
  • Administration for Community Living: $955 million allocated for resources, including aging and disability services programs, including senior nutrition; home and community-based supportive services; family caregivers; elder justice; and independent living.

Relevant Support for Housing Providers

  • Project-Based Rental Assistance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD):  $1 billion to make up for reduced tenant payments as a result of coronavirus. Preserving this critical housing assistance will prevent low-income families and individuals from being at risk of homelessness.
  • Section 202 Housing for the Elderly from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): $50 million to maintain housing stability and services for low-income seniors. Seniors are particularly at risk from the coronavirus.
  • Section 811 Housing for Persons with Disabilities from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): $15 million to make up for reduced tenant payments as a result of coronavirus.
  • Public Housing Operating Fund (HUD): $685 million to provide Public Housing Agencies with additional operating assistance to make up for reduced tenant rent payments, as well as to help contain the spread of coronavirus in public housing properties.

Relevant Direct Support for Families

  • Legal Services Corporation: $50 million to address the increased need for legal services due to coronavirus.
  • Tenant-Based Rental Assistance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): $1.25 billion to preserve Section 8 voucher rental assistance for seniors, the disabled, and low-income working families, who will experience loss of income from the coronavirus.

Policy Priorities

GHHI has identified the following short term policy priorities for the COVID-19 response, in order to support housing as a platform for health, safety, and success for families and communities.

  • Immediately require the placement of carbon monoxide detectors in federally supported and assisted housing.
  • Expand the capacity to provide virtual and online healthy housing training programs including the EPA’s Renovations, Repair, and Painting Program, to increase access to these programs for low-income communities and communities of color and ultimately create additional jobs through workforce, environmental health, and technology grants.
  • Enact proactive rental inspection programs in state and local governments with provisions that allow renters to trigger inspection and remediation while preventing retaliation against those renters.
  • Supply funds for emergency healthy housing repair and residential services for energy efficiency that remediate severe mold, lead, pest management, and temperature control issues that should be addressed to reduce the prevalence of respiratory illness that can exacerbate COVID-19 outcomes.
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