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Congress Passes Third COVID-19 Federal Relief Package

May 2020

In March, Congress passed H.R. 748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).

As “Phase Three” of an extensive federal relief package, this legislation includes nearly $2 trillion in relief intended to mitigate the enormous economic effects of COVID-19 (also known as coronavirus) on the American economy and bolster the nation’s ability to fight the ongoing public health emergency.

The CARES Act is the culmination of two tumultuous weeks of political wrangling in Washington, D.C., where the Capitol Complex was shuttered except for members of Congress, Trump Administration officials and their staffs who have been hashing out the details of urgently needed legislation.

NAA was deeply engaged and worked to ensure the industry’s voice was heard in all three phases of the federal COVID-19 relief package.

Phase Three – The CARES Act

The CARES Act contains a number of provisions that will have significant impacts on the apartment industry:

Individuals​

  • Provides an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits through December 31, 2020 and an additional $600 per week per individual. This benefit includes those not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits (self-employed, independent contractors, those with limited work history and others) who are unable to work because of the COVID-19 emergency. 
  • Creates an advanced tax refund, or “recovery rebate,” direct payment program for individuals and families. 
    • The benefit is capped at $1,200 per individual, $2,400 per couple plus $500 per child. 
    • It is available to those with adjusted gross income of $75,000 per individual, $112,500 for a head of household and $150,000 per couple. 
    • The rebates are phased out in 5 percent increments for single filers at $99,000, heads of household at $136,500 and joint filers at $198,000. The amount of the rebate is based on 2019 tax returns, or 2018 returns for those who have not yet filed for 2019. Taxpayers will have to account for recovery rebates on their 2020 tax returns.  
  • Waives the 10 percent early withdrawal penalty for withdrawals of up to $100,000 from qualified retirement accounts for COVID-19 related purposes. Distributed amounts could be recontributed to a qualified retirement account over within three years. Tax can also be spread out over three years on distributed payments.
  • Waives required minimum distribution rules from certain tax-favored retirement plans for 2020.
  • Provides taxpayers who do not itemize deductions the ability to deduct up to $300 in charitable contributions in 2020. It also waives certain limitations applicable to deductions claimed by individuals and corporations. For individuals, the 50 percent of adjusted gross income limitation is suspended for 2020.  For corporations, the 10 percent limitation is increased to 25 percent of taxable income.
  • Excludes up to $5,250 from employee income for student loans repaid by an employer after the date of enactment and through 2020. 

Click here for more details on the above provisions.

Housing

  • Furnishers to credit reporting agencies (like apartment firms, credit card companies, etc.) who agree to modified (rental) payments with respect to an obligation or account of a consumer that has been impacted by COVID-19, must report such obligation or account as “current” or as the status reported prior to the accommodation during the period of accommodation unless the consumer becomes current. Such credit protection ends at the later of 120 days after enactment of the legislation or 120 days after the date the national emergency declaration related to the coronavirus is terminated.
  • Creates a temporary eviction moratorium for 120 days beginning on the date of enactment which applies to covered dwellings in covered properties. This provision is separate and apart from the forbearance requirements in Sec. 4023.
    • There are concerns that if you seek forbearance for those properties later, it could extend the requirement to suspend evictions for 90 additional days or however the dates line up from when the period of forbearance starts. 
    • The mandate prohibits issuing a notice to vacate, initiating an eviction filing, or assessing fees or penalties on residents for nonpayment of rent.
    • Additionally, rental housing providers covered under this section may not issue a notice to vacate until after the expiration of the moratorium or require a renter to vacate until 30 days after the notice to vacate has been issued, which would delay evictions until 150 days after the date of enactment.
    • Applies to:
      • rental housing providers whose properties are insured, guaranteed, supplemented, protected, or assisted in any way by the VA, HUD, the Federal Housing Administration, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac; or
      • **participate in:
        • the Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program;
        • the Section 811 Housing for Persons with Disabilities Program;
        • Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA) Program;
        • McKinney-Vento Homelessness Assistance Programs;
        • Section 236 properties;
        • Section 221(d)(3) below market and reduced interest rate program (BMIR);
        • the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program;
        • Section 8 project-based housing;
        • HOME grantees;
        • rural housing assistance programs; and
        • Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) properties
      • (**references in the law to rental housing providers of covered properties who must comply with the requirements of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994).
    • NOTE: You should communicate to residents that for covered properties, the 120-day suspension of evictions in no way removes a resident's responsibility to pay rent or comply with the terms of the lease agreement.
  • Provides the HUD Secretary with discretion to waive program requirements to encourage more participation in the agency’s housing programs.
  • $5 billion to the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program to enable nearly 1,240 states, counties and cities to rapidly respond to COVID-19 and the economic and housing impacts caused by it. 
    • Of the amounts provided, $2 billion will be allocated to states and local governments that received an allocation under the fiscal year 2020 CDBG formula;
    • $1 billion will go directly to states to support a coordinated response across entitlement and non-entitlement communities; and
    • $2 billion will be allocated to states and local governments based on the prevalence and risk of COVID-19 and related economic and housing disruption.
  • $1 billion to allow the continuation of housing assistance contracts with participating rental housing providers for over 1.2 million Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) households and gives the HUD Secretary discretion to waive program requirements to encourage more participation in the program.
  • $1.25 billion in Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) until expended. Specifically, these funds would be used to provide additional funding for Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) to maintain normal operations during the period significantly impacted by coronavirus. Of these amounts:
    • $850 million would be available for both administrative expenses and other expenses of PHAs for their Section 8 programs.
    • $400 million would be used for adjustments in the calendar year 2020 Section 8 renewal funding allocations for agencies that experience a significant increase in voucher per-unit costs.
    • An important note is that the Secretary will be afforded broad waiver authority for dealing with circumstances related to coronavirus but must notify the public of the use of such waiver authority.
  • $65 million for housing for the elderly (Section 202) and persons with disabilities (Section 811) for rental assistance for the more than 114,000 affordable households for the elderly and over 30,000 affordable households for low-income persons with disabilities.
    • Of these funds, $10 million would be used for service coordinators and existing service grants for residents of Section 202 assisted housing projects.
  • $685 million to the Public Housing Operating Fund, which will provide Public Housing Agencies with additional operating assistance to make up for reduced tenant rent payments, as well as to help contain the spread of coronavirus in public housing properties.
  • $4 billion for Homeless Assistance Grants which will enable state and local governments to address coronavirus among the homeless population. 
  • $300 million for Native American Programs to prevent homelessness due to lost income from the coronavirus, as well as to contain the spread of coronavirus on tribal lands. 
  • $65 million for rental assistance and to expand operational and administrative flexibilities for housing and supportive service providers under the Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA) Program. 
  • $2.5 million for special fair housing enforcement grants, education and outreach.
  • $14.250 billion will be available for higher education emergency relief for institutions. Funds may be used to defray expenses for institutions of higher education, including housing.
  • Allows the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to enhance housing initiatives for homeless veterans, including temporarily eliminating funding limits for programs providing direct support services to homeless veterans.

Tax

  • Establishes a refundable employee retention tax credit for employers subject to closure due to COVID-19. 
  • Enables employers and the self-employed to delay the payment of the employer side of Social Security payroll taxes. 
  • Allows net operating losses (NOLs) generated in taxable years beginning in 2018, 2019, and 2020 to be carried back for five years, and eliminates the 80 percent taxable income limitation to allow an NOL to fully offset income. 
  • Suspends the limitation of excess business losses applicable to pass-through businesses and sole proprietors that would otherwise be applicable for 2018, 2019, and 2020. 
  • Increases to 50 percent the 30 percent business interest limitation rule for taxable years beginning in 2019 and 2020.  

Click here for more details on the above provisions.

Small Business

  • Expands the Small Business Administration’s Standard 7(a) Loan, Express Loan and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program.
  • Allows employers with fewer than 500 employees, as well as Section 501(c)(3)s, Section 501(c)(19)s and Tribal businesses with fewer than 500 employees, to apply for up to $10 million in 7(a) financing or 2.5 times the average montly payroll costs (whichever is lesser) for rent, mortgage, utility and payroll obligations.
  • Provides an opportunity for 7(a) loan forgiveness if an employer is able to document that the business has not reduced the number of employees or their salary and wages during the 8-week period after loan origination.
  • Creates an employee retention tax credit that will refund up to 50 percent of what businesses spend on employee wages, up to $5,000 per employer, if the business can certify they suffered financially, compared to their positioning in the previous year.
  • Increases the maximum allowable assistance within the SBA Express Loan program from $350,000 to $1,000,000 for eligible businesses.
  • Allows applicants for the EIDL Program to request for a $10,000 advance to be delivered within three days.
  • Prohibits borrowers from comingling multiple SBA loan types.

Similar to the battles waged by our state and local association partners to defeat eviction moratoria and other adverse policies, we will continue to make the industry’s voice heard in Washington and remind policymakers of the unintended consequences and immense challenges facing the industry during this unprecedented public health emergency.

Lawmakers must remember that owners and operators are tasked with ensuring the viability of apartment communities. Rental housing providers must pay mortgage payments, employee payroll and benefits, insurance premiums and tax obligations. They, too, are experiencing financial hardships – sometimes tenfold – as renters in communities across the country struggle.

For more information on industry best practices and strategies for navigating this new landscape, please see NAA’s Guidance for Dealing with the Coronavirus and COVID-19-Related Policy Concerns Advocacy Page. We will update these pages regularly as new information becomes available.