Habitat CEO: Economic relief bill offers down payment on housing support, but action still needed for long-term stability

ATLANTA (Dec. 22, 2020)Habitat for Humanity International Jonathan Reckford CEO issued the following statement on the bipartisan COVID-19 economic relief legislation:

“Since the coronavirus first arrived, home has been the first line of defense. But the economic fallout of the pandemic has put the security of home at risk for millions across the United States, through no fault of their own.

“We applaud this bipartisan economic relief package, which offers important housing support, hard-fought for by advocates. The extension of some eviction protections through January and the extension of the Coronavirus Relief Fund through 2021, which was established by the CARES Act, relieves some pressure on families who were staring down a New Year’s Eve deadline. The bill provides $25 billion in emergency rental assistance, which if distributed quickly and efficiently, will help some of the most vulnerable families stay in their homes. Direct payments, though lower than the first round, will help families cover a rent or mortgage payment. It also includes $12 billion in emergency COVID-19 investments for Community Development Financial Institutions and the Minority Depository to help low-income and minority communities that were especially hard hit by the pandemic.

“But these are still partial measures, when what families truly need is long-term support. With the eviction and foreclosure moratoria both set to expire this winter, there is little time to reach a longer-term solution. While the rental payment assistance is welcomed, there is not enough in this legislation for low-income homeowners who face the threat of foreclosure. Additionally, Congress must take a global leadership role in recovery by providing critical humanitarian support to help us all recover more quickly.

“Habitat for Humanity will continue advocating through our Cost of Home campaign, and work with the incoming Congress and administration to prioritize investments in housing as infrastructure, a vital part of economic recovery. The new Congress and administration must work together to ensure that this package is a down payment on their commitment to American families, not the last. We look forward to working with Congress and the administration on further bipartisan economic recovery efforts, which are urgently needed to ensure stability for communities here in the U.S., as well as those around the world facing long-term health and economic impacts from the pandemic.”

Reckford wrote about why Congress must provide meaningful housing support in an opinion piece published by HousingWire last week. Read it here.

About Habitat for Humanity

Driven by the vision that everyone needs a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity began in 1976 as a grassroots effort on a community farm in southern Georgia. The Christian housing organization has since grown to become a leading global nonprofit working in local communities across all 50 states in the U.S. and in more than 70 countries. Families and individuals in need of a hand up partner with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. Through financial support, volunteering or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, visit habitat.org.