The Saturday, August 8, 2020, presidential executive orders may have delayed further negotiations since there have been no discussions on Capitol Hill with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows reportedly out of town. Despite the President’s directives, they may not have been as far-reaching as some had hoped. The executive order on rental protection orders the CDC and HHS to “consider whether any measures temporarily halting residential evictions of any tenants for failure to pay rent are reasonably necessary to prevent the further spread of COVID-19…”
Many advocates are concerned about what will happen if people and families start to lose their housing. An August 8, 2020 article by the publication Politico said,
“Nearly 1.7 million rental households in Texas — or about 4.7 million people — cannot pay their full rent and are at risk of eviction, according to an analysis of Census Bureau data by the consulting firm Stout, Risius Ross LLC. More than 58 percent of Mississippi renter households and about 48 percent of those in West Virginia are in the same situation, as are 56 percent of Louisiana renters and 52 percent in South Carolina. And more than 1.1 million renter households in Florida are at risk of eviction, according to the study, although the state has offered some protections.”
While there are significant concerns about evictions, people across the country are also feeling the loss of unemployment compensation. The President’s order and the later memorandum on an unemployment compensation extension are far from the $400 benefit he announced a weekend ago. The benefit would be $300 from the federal government with a $100 state match, although it was later clarified that states could use some current spending as a match. It gets more complicated from there. States cannot use their current unemployment compensation systems to implement the benefit due to the way the funds and the executive order is structured. States would have to set up a separate compensation system. The extended benefit will not assist people receiving less than $100 a week in state benefits. That would leave many lower-wage workers out since state unemployment benefits are a varying percentage of average weekly wages. The President is attempting to use approximately $44 billion in disaster assistance funding for the new benefit, but even if states can get the relief implemented, it could run out within weeks according to some estimates.
Despite all this, there doesn’t seem to be an urgency, and that could mean the next steps or window will be when the fiscal year ends on September 30 and the need to pass something to keep the government open by October 1, 2020. A chart of some of the differences between the House of Representatives HEROES Act and the Senate HEAL Act (Republican description) can be found in this chart.
The articles that follow are a recap of some of the critical human services funding CWLA is supporting: