Congress passes fourth bipartisan emergency relief package

Congress passes fourth bipartisan emergency relief package

Congress has passed a fourth bipartisan emergency package to provide additional funding for health and economic needs associated with the COVID-19 crisis. The Senate passed the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (also known as COVID 3.5) on April 21 by a voice vote, and the House passed the bill on April 23 by a recorded vote of 388-5. The President indicated he will quickly sign it into law. This was a very narrowly focused bill, and we did not anticipate or plan on any of our housing priorities being included in this package.

The bill provides:

-$310 billion in additional funding for loans through the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), with $30 billion reserved for community-based lenders, small banks and credit unions and $30 billion reserved for mid-sized banks and credit unions. $11.3 billion for administrative fees.
-$50 billion for the Disaster Loans Program Account.
-$10 billion for Economic Injury Disaster Grants.
-$75 billion for reimbursement to hospitals and healthcare providers to support the need for COVID-19 related expenses and lost revenue.
-$25 billion for necessary expenses to research, develop, validate, manufacture, purchase, administer, and expand capacity for COVID-19 tests.

During debate on the bill, both Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) discussed the need for additional major legislation to address the COVID-19 crisis. In outlining Senate Democrats’ priorities for the next bill, Senator Schumer noted a number of issues including aid for state and local governments, Tribal governments, and the Postal Service. Of particular interest to the affordable housing community was Senator Schumer’s inclusion of rental housing on the priority list. In his floor statement, he stated that “Working Americans need rental assistance.”

As we reported earlier, Members of Congress and Hill staff are working on the next COVID-19 package – sometimes referred to as CARES 2.0 or COVID-19 4.0. The scope of the legislation and the timing of it are uncertain at this time. We are continuing to work with our Hill champions and industry partners to include the minimum 4 percent credit and the lowering of the 50 percent test in that bill. In addition to our LIHTC provisions, the industry is working on a number of appropriations to be included in the next package to address tenants/renters that are not in HUD subsidized units as well as affordable housing properties/owners. There are a number of proposals in play including $48 billion in new HOME resources and a proposal by Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA) for $100 billion in ESG (Emergency Solution Grants). While Bob, Barbara and I remain focused on our LIHTC agenda, we are also lending our insights and assistance in advancing efforts to secure resources for tenants and properties.

On the regulatory side, we are continuing to pursue our efforts with Treasury and the IRS to extend a number of LIHTC-related deadlines. As we reported earlier, Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) and Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA) wrote Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin requesting the extensions. We are most appreciative of their efforts, and we will continue to work with the Hill and our industry partners to seek relief from these deadlines.

We will keep you posted on any legislative or regulatory developments. In the meantime, please stay safe.

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