House passage of scaled-back HEROES Act sends clear message to Senate: act now to protect public health and the economy

Yesterday, the House passed a scaled-back version of the HEROES Act, trimming about $1.2 trillion in aid from a plan passed by the full chamber in May. The Senate has yet to take up the HEROES Act, and failed to pass a $500 million “skinny” aid package earlier this month. 

Jesse Van Tol, CEO of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC), made the following statement:

“While we are happy to see the House push to get this vital piece of legislation passed, it is unfortunate that so much assistance was cut from the bill. The Senate and the White House have refused to recognize the scale of economic relief needed if the nation is to have any chance at an equitable recovery.  

“Even in its current, scaled-back form, this plan promises to deliver relief to homeowners, renters and small businesses and provides additional funding for Community Development Financial Institutions, Minority Depository Institutions and housing counselors to continue to deliver critical support to those most impacted by the public health and economic crisis. 

“More needs to be done, and it is unfortunate that Senate leadership chose to do nothing with the original HEROES Act and continues to ignore the hardships caused by weeks of inaction. This new plan sends a strong message that continued inaction in the Senate puts the nation’s public health and economic recovery at risk.  

NCRC research shows why this response is so necessary. Decades of government-sanctioned redlining and housing discrimination continues to negatively impact the trajectory of communities of color and lower-income communities, not just their economic opportunity but also their health. Those are the communities suffering the most from the pandemic, and their hardship is made worse by inaction in the Senate. 

“We are at a critical juncture in this racial justice, public health, economic and environmental crisis. This scaled-back approach is not a panacea to decades of housing discrimination and the present-day economic and public health impacts. It is a downpayment on many solutions we need. We urge swift passage of this plan.”

The bill includes provisions that will:

  • Help prevent evictions by providing $50 billion for an Emergency Rental Assistance program and expanding the eviction moratorium to include all renters.
  • Help prevent foreclosures by providing $21 billion to states, territories and tribes to address the ongoing needs of homeowners struggling to afford their housing.
  • Help households recover by providing another round of $1,200 direct payments.
  • Support housing counseling by providing $100 million to enable housing counselors to respond to the surge of demand for services, which include foreclosure and eviction mitigation counseling, due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Support small businesses by ensuring additional funding through the PPP program is targeted to businesses hardest-hit by the effects of the pandemic, and by creating a set-aside for loans issued by community lenders, and loans made to very small businesses and businesses located in lower-income communities. 
  • Support businesses owned by people of color by providing $3 billion in grants directly to minority business enterprises 
  • Increase access to capital in lower-income communities and communities of color by directing the Treasury to use $13 billion to establish the Neighborhood Capital Investment Program and support Community Development Financial Institutions and Minority Depository Institutions with long-term capital investments and other steps to support these community lenders.
  • Help prevent homelessness by providing $5 billion for the Emergency Solutions Grants program to enable state and local governments to finance housing and health related services for the hundreds of thousands of people currently experiencing homelessness.
  • Promote fair housing by providing $14 million to ensure individuals are protected from housing-related hate crimes and increasing forms of housing discrimination.
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