New Federal Coronavirus Relief Package Awaits President’ Signature

On Monday, December 21st, the United States Congress passed a new coronavirus relief package named the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 that includes dedicated federal emergency rental assistance.  This new influx of funding was a priority for the National Apartment Association (NAA). 

A major feature of the rental assistance provisions included in the bill is that property owners may be apply for rental assistance under the program or apply on behalf of the tenant, but will be required to notify the renter that assistance is being provided on their behalf and obtain their consent to submit an application.  The City of Austin stated on Tuesday that they will be crafting a program in January/February exclusively for rental property owners to make application for rental assistance on behalf of their tenants.

This is a major victory for our industry, as advocacy efforts from the beginning of the pandemic, by many members, NAA and local affiliates across the country, have demanded rental assistance from Congress, and it is now included in this bill.

Important items in the bill include:

  • $25 billion in dedicated rental assistance.
  • Extension of the CDC Eviction Moratorium to January 31, 2021
  • Eligible renters would be able to receive assistance with rent and utility payments, unpaid rent or utility bills that have accumulated since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, and other housing expenses that were incurred due, directly, or indirectly, to the pandemic.
  • Funds will be sent to states and localities using the same formula used to distribute earlier relief funds, and the City of Austin will soon announce its allocation of funds.
  • $600 direct stimulus check payments per qualifying individual (including children).
  • $300 per week federal unemployment insurance enhancement for unemployed Americans.
  • New construction/substantial rehab credit for the Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) program.
  • $284 billion in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.

Read a full bill summary here.

The package awaits the President’s signature, but he has hinted that an increase to the direct stimulus checks is needed.  If the President vetos the package, or simply fails to sign it by January 3 (a “pocket veto”), a new package would have to be passed by Congress, and this would likely have to wait until the new Congress convenes in mid-January.