The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced on May 1 that it will provide a second round of emergency relief funding for eligible low-income families and individuals living in public housing. The $685 million in funds, made available by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, will be awarded to public housing agencies across the country.
“As a result of President Trump’s strong leadership, we were able to secure necessary funding through the CARES Act to help keep Americans living in public housing safe through these unprecedented times,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson in an official statement posted on the agency’s website. “HUD has worked hard to ensure that these funds will reach public housing authorities (PHAs) quickly and efficiently, so they are well equipped to protect their residents and staff as we all work together as a nation to combat this invisible enemy.”
The funds have been allocated through the Public Housing Operating Fund. Here is a list of eligible uses for the funds:
Preparing for a potential outbreak
- Create or update an infectious disease outbreak plan; source and purchase personal protective equipment for PHA staff;
- Coordination with providers of services needed to support residents as a result of coronavirus, including cost of delivery of goods, supplies and equipment;
- Coordination with local health-service providers for activities, including the development or provision of guidance to staff or residents, travel for testing or other reasons related to coronavirus;
- Child-care costs for residents so that they can continue to work and child-care costs for staff performing essential functions (as defined at the state and local level), to the extent they would not have incurred otherwise;
- Costs related to maintaining adequate social distancing, including modifying or limiting access to communal spaces, increasing service hours to prevent crowding in waiting areas, or any other costs incurred to ensure adequate distance among staff and residents;
- Costs of delivering supplies so that staff or residents can shelter in place, thereby reducing exposure to the greatest number of people;
- Direct costs related to limiting the spread of the coronavirus, including travel costs for testing, or other preventive health measures related to coronavirus;
- Expenses of isolating people suspected of being exposed or those at high-risk of serious complications if infected such as elderly residents and residents with underlying conditions;
- Costs of protecting residents, particularly high-risk households, from exposure from interaction with PHA staff and vice versa;
- Payment of salaries of PHA staff who are unable to work because of the coronavirus public health restrictions, for instance, office management staff who cannot go into the office and cannot perform work remotely or payment of full salaries of PHA staff forced to work part-time because of lack of child care.
Responding to an outbreak
- Expenses of caring for PHA staff and residents who have tested positive but do not require immediate hospitalization, including:
- Payment for increases in sick-leave allowances for PHA staff; physical, personnel or security costs incurred to limit movement; costs to safely transport residents that tested positive to a quarantine facility; and costs of supporting residents in quarantine such as health-related supplies including masks and cleaning supplies.
- Expenses to safely transport residents/staff in need of medical attention;
- Expenses incurred because of coronavirus restrictions affecting PHA operations, for example, paying for transportation expenses for staff members who rely on public transit that is no longer available;
- Costs to facilitate and coordinate with local schools and governments receiving funds from the Department of Education for the education of students in public housing households, including internet connection infrastructure and tablets or other low-cost computers.
- Other reasonable expenses incurred while responding to the coronavirus.
A list of state allocations can be found here.
On top of the funding, HUD announced that public housing authorities can use operating and capital funds provided through prior acts for eligible operating and capital fund activities or for pandemic-related purposes.
Carson said that after the CARES Act was signed into law, HUD acted immediately to allocate its first wave of funding, over $3 billion to assist communities and non-profits, help protect the homeless and Americans with compromised immune systems, and support Native American tribal communities with their COVID-19 response efforts.
“The work of public housing authorities has never been more important than today,” said Hunter Kurtz, assistant secretary of Public and Indian Housing. “Ensuring housing is one of the easiest ways to combat the virus, and this funding will assist PHAs with that mission.”
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