President Donald Trump directed the Department of Housing and Urban Development to suspend all foreclosures and evictions through April amid the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The Department of Housing and Urban Development is providing immediate relief to renters and homeowners by suspending all foreclosures and evictions until the end of April,” President Donald Trump said in announcing the action during a Wednesday afternoon press conference.
The action is being taking as millions across America face immediate loss or reduction in wages due to businesses closing because of the coronavirus outbreak. Those working in the travel and service industry were especially hit hard, with Americans urged to forego all non-essential travel and forego eating out.
Housing activists – including in Massachusetts – previously called for relief amid the public health crisis.
U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Democratic presidential primary contender, penned a letter to the Department of Housing and Urban Development on Tuesday requesting a moratorium on evictions of Housing Choice Voucher recipients as well as residents living in HUD-assisted rental housing and public housing until the public health emergency has ended.
Rep. Katie Porter of California and Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon were also signatories.
“Individuals living in federally-assisted rental housing and public housing need the certainty that they can take care of the health of themselves and their loved ones, and follow public health directives, without fear of losing their homes,” the representatives and senators wrote in their letter to HUD Secretary Ben Carson.
Pressley and Warren, both of whom represent Massachusetts, sent a separate letter to the National Rental Home Council, which with its member partners owns more than 200,000 rental homes, urging the association to issue an immediate moratorium on all eviction proceedings for rental homes and offer deferred rent payment options with no late fees to tenants affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
The congresswomen sent another letter to the American Apartment Owners Association in which they asked the organization to do the same. AAOA has 115,000 member partners, according to the document.
“Housing is a basic need for families as they seek to remain safe during this public health emergency. Evicting families puts their health at risk, imposes trauma on and disrupts the education of their children, and exacerbates the risk of outbreak in their communities,” the letter said.
Massachusetts state Reps. Mike Connolly and Kevin Honan also filed legislation Friday to stop all evictions and foreclosures in the state for the duration of the public health emergency.
Kentucky, New York and other states previously halted evictions prior to the federal announcement.
Earlier this week, the White House announced additional planned direct economic relief for Americans.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin shared limited details regarding a plan to provide direct cash support to Americans amid the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mnuchin called it a “stimulus package to the American worker” and said funds could be sent to Americans within the next two weeks.
“We’re looking at sending checks to Americans immediately,” Mnuchin said at the press conference Tuesday. “Americans need cash now.”
The initiative is part of a $850 billion stimulus package the White House is proposing to support businesses and taxpayers. The White House hopes to pass the measure quickly, possibly within the week, the Associated Press reported.
The far-reaching economic package is larger than the 2008 bank bailout or the 2009 recovery act.
By Michelle Williams and Jackson Cote, masslive.com