Over the weekend, the Senate passed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, a $1.9 trillion funding package aimed to provide relief and resources to people, programs, and businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This bill is expected to be passed by Congress and signed into law by the president this week.
This massive bill includes vital funding for housing and homelessness programs, as well as direct payments to families and individuals.
$5 Billion for HOME Program for People At-Risk of and Experiencing Homelessness
Funding for supportive services, transitional housing, housing counseling, and homeless prevention services, as well as the development of non-congregate shelter units, will be provided through the HOME Investment Partnerships program. This funding is available until September 30, 2025.
Non-congregate housing options include spaces where members of different families or households reside separately and do not share spaces such as dining areas, restrooms, living or entertainment space, and sleeping areas.
This funding can also be used by communities to acquire commercial properties such as hotels and motels and convert them to safe, non-congregate housing, affordable housing, or supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness. Such projects are critical to providing stable, safe housing for those in need and can help communities working to measurably end homelessness.
For more information, see the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities explainer.
$21.5 Billion for Emergency Rental Assistance
This funding will be provided to states, territories, and tribal governments to provide emergency rental assistance to specific households. This funding is intended to go to households at high risk of eviction or housing instability and can be used for back rent or future rent, as well as utilities and other household needs. This funding is in addition to the $25 billion in emergency rental assistance included in the COVID relief bill passed in December.
For more details, see the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s factsheet.
$5 Billion for Housing Choice Vouchers
The housing choice voucher program is a HUD program that assists very low-income families, the elderly, and people with disabilities by helping them secure safe, healthy, and affordable housing. Housing choice vouchers are provided to people recovering from homelessness and renters at the greatest risk of homelessness if they lose their current housing. This funding is available until September 30, 2030.
$1400 Stimulus Checks and Extended Federal Unemployment Benefits
This large funding bill also includes another round of direct payments to individuals and families and an additional extension of enhanced federal unemployment benefits.
Similar to the previous relief bills, individuals earning less than $75,000 and couples earning less than $150,000 would receive the full $1,400 payment, plus an additional $1,400 per dependent. However, in this bill, individuals who earn more than $80,000 a year and married couples earning more than $160,000, would not receive a stimulus check, regardless of how many children they have. The IRS is hoping to start distributing these payments to those who are eligible during the last half of March.
For those who don’t file taxes or have a permanent address, such as people experiencing homelessness, there are resources to ensure they can receive their stimulus checks. The IRS will be updating its website with more information when it’s available.
Congress also continued extra unemployment benefits and extended the time people can access enhanced benefits. People who qualify for unemployment benefits will receive an extra $300 until September 6, 2021.
Additional funding includes:
- $750 million for Native American and Tribal housing programs
- $100 million for emergency rental assistance for rural households, including $39 million to assistant families with USDA direct loans
- $9.96 million to help homeowners avoid foreclosure through the Homeowner Assistance Fund
- $100 million for housing counseling to be administered by NeighborWorks
- $20 million for the Fair Housing Initiatives Program