CARH Broadcast Email—Legislative Update

On Sunday, December 20, 2020, Congressional leaders reached a last-minute deal on a $1.4 trillion bill that would fund the government for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2021 (through September 30, 2021) and provide roughly $900 billion in coronavirus relief aid. The House and Senate also passed a one-day stopgap bill on Sunday to keep the government running, while members consider the coronavirus relief and omnibus appropriations bill. The final bill is well over 5,000 pages. As soon as Congress passes this bill, it will be sent to President Trump for his signature.

The final deal bill includes a tax package that includes a permanent minimum 4% Housing Credit rate for Housing Bonds issued after December 31st; $25 billion for emergency rental assistance; and a one-month extension of what appears to be the CDC Order which would now prohibit evictions until January 31, 2021.

The 4% flat Housing Credit for Housing Bonds is a major win for affordable housing, housing development and preservation and low-income residents. The bill also provides that the real property trade or business electing out of the interest limitation created out of the 2017 Tax Reform Act use 30-year Alternative Depreciation for property placed in service before January 1, 2018. In addition, the legislation includes $1.1 billion in Housing Credits for disaster areas, including 11 states and Puerto Rico. New Markets Tax Credits $5 billion annual allocations are extended five years to 2025.

The $25 billion rental subsidy will run through the Treasury Department in large block grants to states and localities under the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) allocations. Small states will receive at least $200 million. Localities with more than 200,000 residents may request a direct allocation from Treasury. There will be an $800 million set aside for Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians with another $400 million for US territories. Up to 10 percent of the overall funding can be used for housing stability, case management, and similar services. Up to another 10 percent can be used for administrative costs. Treasury has 30 days after enactment to allocate the funds.

CARH has been working with other owner groups to help press for more funding and more flexibility in the CARES Act established CRF. The CRF provided broad funding to States to address coronavirus need. Many states have been using the CRF to provide limited, temporary rental assistance to persons affected by the virus and the economic fallout. Some states place the burden on the resident to apply for the funds, other states allow the owner to apply directly. The bill authorizes that both tenants and landlords may apply. The assistance is intended to cover rent and utility payments including bills that have accumulated during the pandemic, a total of up to 12 months of assistance plus another three months if necessary, to avoid eviction and if funds are available.

Eligible renters include households with 2020 income at 80 percent area median income or below (priority to 50 percent or below or unemployed and unemployed for prior 90 days), have a member experiencing homelessness or housing instability, and qualify for unemployment benefits or experiencing financial hardship. There is a provision for recertifying every three months. This rental assistance should not be treated as income or taken into account in qualifying for any other federal, state, or local assistance, but should not be duplicative of other federal rental assistance.

CARH had worked to get a specific allocation to Rural Development properties. Several bills introduced in Congress, and passed the House, this year contained this Rental Assistance additional subsidy. But in the end, as Congress debated rental subsidy somewhere between $0 and $100 billion, and which type of program, the $25 billion level was included with the vehicle moving the implementation obligation directly to the States through the CRF. CARH has advocated for rural housing and the overall feedback was that rural residents would be able to access these funds consistent with all residents.

The agreement also includes $284 billion for first and second forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and expends PPP eligibility, as well as includes dedicated PPP set-asides for very small businesses and lending through community-based lenders like the Community Development Financial Institutions. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Democratic Leaders Check Schumer (D-NY) issued a statement providing more information on other key elements of the deal.

CARH will provide a more detailed analysis of the bill once it is passed and signed into law.

During this continuing crisis CARH staff, executive committee, board members, and members will continue to work with stakeholders, federal agencies, and lawmakers to find the best ways to support all rural communities. Join industry insiders at CARH’s virtual Midyear Meeting January 25-26, 2021, where sessions addressing how this massive legislative package will impact owners, residents, and properties throughout rural America will be discussed. Click here to register now.