House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rep. Nita Lowey’s (D-NY) analysis outlines resources coming to New York in the $2 trillion stimulus package in response to the COVID-19 health crisis. New York state residents can expect $15 billion in unemployment benefits and $15.5 billion in direct payments. New York City can expect $1.4 billion in the relief fund and New York State can expect $5.1 billion. Govornor Cuomo calls the funding insufficient and estimates the State’s need between $9 and $15 billion.
The following is a breakdown of NY’s anticipated share of the $12 billion of HUD funding appropriated across a variety of programs. HUD Secretary Ben Carson has broad authority to grant waivers and he will determine the distribution of more than $6 billion in funding outside of statutorily established formula grants. It will be important for housing advocates, local and state government to advocate HUD for equitable formulas that recognize New York’s high COVID-19 related needs and housing priorities.
Emergency Solutions Grant ($4 billion): Out of the $2 billion distributed by federal formula within 30 days, New York state can expect $192 million in total, including $101 million for New York City. The remaining $2 billion will be allocated based on a formula developed by the HUD secretary “for the benefit of unsheltered homeless, sheltered homeless, and those at risk of homelessness, to geographical areas with the greatest need based on factors to be determined by the Secretary, such as risk of transmission of coronavirus, high numbers or rates of sheltered and unsheltered homeless, and economic and housing market conditions”. With New York’s hotspot status and large homeless population, we expect both the City and State to receive significant allocations.
Community Development Block Grant ($5 billion): Out of the first $2 billion distributed by federal formula within 30 days, New York state can expect $193 million and New York City can expect $102 million of that. $1 billion will be awarded within 45 days “to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus within the State or insular area, including activities within entitlement and nonentitlement communities, based on public health needs, risk of transmission of coronavirus, number of coronavirus cases compared to the national average, and economic and housing market disruptions, and other factors, as determined by the Secretary, using best available data”. The remaining funding will be allocated on a rolling basis, “prioritizing risk of transmission of coronavirus, number of coronavirus cases compared to the national average, and economic and housing market disruptions resulting from coronavirus”. Given New York’s share of total COVID-19 cases and the extraordinary cost burden for local government, small businesses and familes alike, we hope that the HUD Secretary uses his considerable discretion in the distrubtion of awards to strategically and fairly award them.
Tenant-Based Rental Assistance ($1.25 billion): $400 million will cover shortfalls in tenant rent and $850 million will be awarded for administrative and program costs, including new vouchers. The funding will be allocated based on need, as determined by the HUD secretary. It is likely that some new vouchers will be made available but it is unclear at this time how they may be distributed. Given the uncertainty regarding the duration of loss of income for renters, it is difficult to predict how much funding will be needed for budget shortfalls to keep current renters housed.
Public Housing operating ($685 million): This funding will go to public housing authorities to help them prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, including for eligible activities to maintain normal operations and to take other necessary actions, like supporting or maintaining the health and safety of assisted individuals and families, and activities to support education and child care for impacted families. The funds will be distributed according to the regular public housing operating funding formula. The bill also provides budget fungibility for public housing authorities between capital and operating funds. While budget flexibility is normally welcome, it is possible in this case capital funds may have to be used to plug operating deficits, further delaying capital repairs. NYHC will be advocating for full investment in public housing capital funding to be part of federal economic recovery.
Additional HUD funding for programs such as Native American Housing Block Grants ($300 million); HOPWA ($65 million); Project-Based Section 8 ($1 billion); Section 202 ($50 million); Section 811 ($15 million) will provide assistance to owners or sponsors of project-based properties to maintain normal operations and take other necessary actions during the period that the program is impacted by coronavirus.