Ben Carson coughs into his hand then touches his face seconds later

Coronavirus: Millions of US renters still unprotected under Trump administration’s rescue plan

Despite promise of a bailout for renters, federal rules will leave tens of millions under threat of eviction

Andrew Naughtie@andrewnaughtie
Friday 20 March 2020 12:50
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The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced a plan that would stop foreclosures and evictions on millions single-family homes – but would leave tens of millions of people unprotected.

Under HUD’s plan, foreclosures and evictions would stop for 60 days on single-family homes with loans through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). That would apply to roughly eight million units, according to HUD. Only FHA homes lived in for at least a year can be rented out.

That’s compared with the roughly 43 million households who rented in 2019, according to the US Census.

Roughly half of renters rent their home from an individual investor, while the other half rent from a business or multi-unit property owner. According to HUD’s proposal, those renting from a business will not receive any protections.

Furthermore, HUD has no power to protect renters in public housing authorities located across the country.

The rules are in contrast to comments made by Trump this week, who said renters would get “immediate relief” as part of his administration’s plan.

Renters in the US tend to be more economically vulnerable than homeowners. They generally have lower incomes, and cannot tap into the equity in their homes in an emergency. A disproportionate number of renters are black, Hispanic and other minorities.

HUD Secretary Ben Carson said this week on Twitter that the agency is working with Congress to get authority to protect renters in public housing authorities.

“No one should fear losing their home because of the #coronavirus,” he wrote. “HUD has been in contact with every Public Housing Agency in the country to ensure the millions of low-income Americans we serve continue to have a roof over their head.”

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Some cities and states – including San Francisco and Los Angeles, New York state and Kentucky – have imposed their own moratoriums on eviction and foreclosure in response to the coronavirus epidemic, but the majority of states and localities have yet to step in to stop people from losing their homes.

Andrea Shapiro of the Metropolitan Council on Housing, a New York-based housing advocacy organisation, said the best immediate solution would be a national moratorium on both rental payments and mortgage payments.

“Everyone needs protections right now,” she said.

With Associated Press

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