WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), senior member of the Banking and Housing Committee, and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Chairman of the Banking and Housing Committee, applauded inclusion of $100 million in the American Rescue Plan to expand access to housing counseling and assistance services for millions of renters and homeowners struggling to remain in their homes amid the economic crisis created by the pandemic.
“A year after COVID-19 hit our shores, disrupting the lives of millions of families and communities – especially communities of color -- too many Americans remain living in fear of foreclosure, eviction and even homelessness,” said Sen. Menendez. “Sen. Brown and I introduced the Coronavirus Housing Counseling Assistance Act because we believe that if we are serious about helping families struggling during this economic crisis, we have to make investing in housing counseling a part of the American Rescue Plan to help homeowners and renters avoid eviction and foreclosure and find ways to stay in their homes.”
“Housing counselors have been on the front lines helping families during this pandemic, but until today, we had not given counselors the resources they need to help the millions of homeowners and renters who are struggling,” said Sen. Brown. “The American Rescue Plan includes vital housing assistance and funding for housing counseling to ensure that homeowners and renters – especially Black and brown homeowners and renters who have been hardest hit by this pandemic – have the tools and support they need to navigate our nation’s complex housing system and stay in their homes.”
Low-income and minority households have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and resultant economic fallout. According to a Census Household Survey taken between January 20 and February 1, 14.1% of Hispanic households and 18.7% of Black households were behind on their mortgage, compared to 7.2% of white households. Additionally, 21.2% of Hispanic households and 30.4% of Black households were behind on their rent, compared to 12.2% of white households.
Last month, Menendez and Brown introduced the Coronavirus Housing Counseling Improvement Act that would provide federal funding to support HUD-approved nonprofit housing counseling agencies to help renters and homeowners navigate their housing options, understand protections and resources provided through COVID-19 relief and avoid foreclosure and eviction.
The bill was endorsed by the National Housing Resource Center, Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, National Community Reinvestment Coalition, Americans for Financial Reform, UnidosUS, National Urban League, Center for Responsible Lending, and National Association of Realtors (NAR).