Shaheen Introduces Bill to Create Homeowner Assistance Fund to Help People Keep Their Homes amid COVID-19 CrisisFebruary 17, 2021
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, reintroduced legislation with a group of lawmakers led by U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) that would create a $75 billion Homeowner Assistance Fund. The Homeowner Assistance Fund would help protect struggling homeowners and communities by preventing avoidable foreclosures, evictions and utility shutoffs, with funding allocated in part based on a formula that weighs state unemployment claims relative to the number of national unemployment claims. This support would build off the emergency rental assistance Congress passed in December as part of the comprehensive COVID relief package.
“Addressing the serious housing insecurity faced by families across New Hampshire and the nation has been one of the greatest challenges posed by this pandemic. The economic devastation caused by COVID-19 has left many struggling to pay their mortgage or rent on top of other basic necessities like food, utilities and health care, and without relief they’re at risk of losing their homes with nowhere to go,” said Shaheen. “By establishing a Homeowner Assistance Fund, this legislation will help relieve the financial strain families are experiencing amid this crisis and support our economic recovery. I’ll keep fighting to secure additional housing assistance for at-risk Granite Staters during this public health and economic emergency.”
The Homeowner Assistance Fund would be established at the U.S. Department of the Treasury and build on the success of the Hardest Hit Fund (HHF), which provided funds to state housing finance agencies (HFAs) that directed targeted foreclosure prevention assistance to households and neighborhoods in states hit hard by the economic and housing market downturn. The legislation would expand on this model by providing a flexible source of federal aid to all state-level HFAs to help people who have experienced COVID-19 hardships keep up with housing payments and stay in their homes while they search for new employment or wait to get back to work. Financial assistance could go toward mortgage relief, utility and Internet payments and other support to prevent eviction, mortgage delinquency, default or foreclosure. The Senators are seeking to include language based off of this bill in the American Rescue Plan to help protect homeowners from COVID-19-related financial hardships.
In addition to Shaheen, Reed, Brown and Leahy, the bill is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jon Tester (D-MT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tina Smith (D-MN), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tom Carper (D-DE), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Bob Casey (D-PA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Brian Schatz (D-HI).
The Homeowner Assistance Fund is supported by a diverse coalition of housing advocates, including: Independent Community Bankers of America; Credit Union National Association; National Association of Realtors; National Low Income Housing Coalition; National Council of State Housing Agencies; Habitat for Humanity International; National Housing Conference; National Community Reinvestment Coalition; National Association of Affordable Housing Lenders; National Leased Housing Association; Americans for Financial Reform; National Consumer Law Center, on behalf of its low-income clients; Center for Responsible Lending; American Public Gas Association; National Rural Electric Cooperative Association; National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association; National Community Stabilization Trust; and the Council of State Community Development Agencies.
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