Senate Republicans released a $1 trillion COVID-19 relief package on July 28, The Healthcare, Economic Assistance, Liability, And Schools Act (HEALS Act). The release of this legislation comes two months after House Democrats passed their version of a COVID-19 relief package, the $3 trillion Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES Act).
Upon the release of the HEROES Act, NMHC cautioned it would simply be the Democrats’ opening offer. And as Democrats and Republicans negotiate what will become the final legislation, they are nearly $2 trillion and numerous policies apart from a compromise.
NMHC continues to analyze the HEALS Act, but there are a few important provisions to highlight. These include:
- continued, but reduced, federal unemployment benefits (down to $200 a week from $600);
- another round of recovery rebate checks to qualifying households;
- a five-year liability protection for businesses who follow public safety guidance in reopening.
- An enhanced employee hiring and retention payroll tax credit and a new refundable payroll tax credit;
- improvements to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP);
- and additional funding for Section 8 and other housing programs.
It's important to note that the HEALS package doesn’t include an extension of the CARES Act federal eviction moratorium. And – most notably – the HEALS act also does not include funding for a rental assistance program, which is a top priority for NMHC and the multifamily industry.
NMHC is actively working with lawmakers to ensure our industry’s priorities are top of mind as the final package is formed. We continue to stress the important role government assistance has played in ensuring our residents have been able to meet their rent obligations, while also highlighting the catastrophic effects mass non-payments of rent could have on our industry, residents and the overall economy.
While the timeline for this next package is unclear, conventional wisdom is that it will take the better part of the next few weeks, with a final package coming together between August 7 and 14.
NMHC Viewpoint and Detailed State of Play: HEROES Act vs. HEALS Act
Read on to learn about NMHC’s viewpoint on how the various measures included within each proposal compare.
- NMHC Viewpoint: NMHC is supporting the creation of an emergency rental assistance program for those impacted by COVID-19 and are struggling to pay their rent. An extension of existing federal unemployment benefits, in conjunction with direct rental assistance for those not able to access those funds, is necessary to protect the housing stability of millions of Americans.
The HEROES Act includes $100 billion in emergency rental assistance, but the HEALS Act does not include dedicated emergency rental assistance.
The HEROES Act comes in at more than $3 trillion, whereas the HEALS Act would cost about $1 trillion.
The HEROES Act includes hundreds of billions in funding intended to keep state and local governments operational throughout the pandemic. Aside from dedicated educational spending (detailed in a separate dropdown below), the HEALS does not include any state and local funding.
- NMHC Viewpoint: The enhanced unemployment benefits and stimulus checks have clearly helped families and individuals pay their bills, including rent. While this is good news, it is unclear how long apartment renters will be able to keep this up if the economic recovery is prolonged and unemployment remains at elevated levels. NMHC is continuing to push policymakers about the importance of extending federal unemployment benefit as well as creating a rental assistance program for those not able to access the unemployment funds.
The HEROES Act calls for a continuation of the $600 enhanced unemployment benefit. The HEALS Act proposes a two-stage reduction to the current $600 enhanced benefits: an enhancement of $200, and then a cap of 70 percent of a recipient's prior income.
- NMHC Viewpoint: NMHC opposes the HEROES Act eviction moratorium extension and continues to raise the various challenges that this could present for the future of the industry. While we continue to oppose any extension or expansion of the eviction moratorium, NMHC is working to ensure that mortgage forbearance protection are available to all multifamily properties and – if that local/state jurisdiction does have a moratorium in place – the moratorium forbearance timelines are aligned.
The CARES Act had a short-term federal moratorium on evictions that expired July 25. The HEROES Act extends and expands the eviction moratorium to include all properties, not just those with government loans and extends that moratorium for 12 months, while also offering additional forbearance measures to cover the length of the moratorium. The HEALS Act does not include eviction moratorium provisions. However, calls for some form of an extension have been voiced by the White House and some Republicans in recent days.
Both HEROES and HEALS provide over $100 billion in education funding. However, Republicans have tied much of their funding to in-person schooling. And as the pandemic drags on and new information is released, House Democrats argue that the figures they originally proposed within HEROES – over two months ago – may not be sufficient.
- NMHC Viewpoint: NMHC is supporting the creation of targeted liability protections from COVID-19-related litigation for apartment firms that work to follow applicable public health guidelines in reopening. We are also calling for the establishment of a federal economic business recovery fund and to enact the Pandemic Risk Insurance Act to help apartment owners recover from this pandemic and prepare for the next.
The HEROES Act did not include Liability protections, but the HEALS Act includes over 60 pages of business liability measures. Senate Republicans have made clear inclusion of business liability measures are non-negotiable.
- NMHC Viewpoint: NMHC is working to ensure eligibility for all apartment owners and developers in the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection and the Federal Reserve’s Mainstreet Lending Programs.
The HEROES Act expands funding and the list of who is eligible to apply. HEALS also expands funding but does not expand eligibility. HEALS also allows for smaller companies to apply for a second loan.
- NMHC Rent Payment Tracker Finds 90.1 Percent of Apartment Households Paid Rent as of September 20
- NMHC Rent Payment Tracker Finds 86.2 Percent of Apartment Households Paid Rent as of September 13
- NMHC COVID-19 Weekly Update (September 11)
- NMHC Rent Payment Tracker Finds 76.4 Percent of Apartment Households Paid Rent as of September 6
- Real Estate Coalition Letter on CDC Order