CARES Act Allocates $12 Billion for Homelessness and Housing Relief

BY Ryan Polsky

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The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) was signed by President Trump on Friday afternoon, providing monetary relief in the wake of a global pandemic. This $2 trillion emergency legislation includes funding to address social issues impacted by the pandemic including housing and homelessness. While this funding may not be enough, it will help people struggling to maintain stable housing during this pandemic.

The package has more than $12 billion dollars set aside for homelessness and housing relief. The majority of this money is obtained through grants:

Helping At-Risk Populations

Beyond the most vulnerable, part of this money will be allocated to populations at risk.

According to a communication sent by the New York Housing Conference, “This legislation gives the HUD Secretary broad waiver authority in a number of areas. This may be helpful as it is critical that localities be able to use funding for populations that have not always met the definition of homelessness, such as people being discharged from the hospital or leaving jails. Given the current crisis, we do not want red tape to force anyone into a shelter for a night to prove homelessness.”

The package provides relief to keep public housing afloat as people struggle to pay rent. Over $3 billion will be designated for rental assistance programs and protections that include:

Eviction Protections

The CARES Act also provides borrowers, tenants and landlords with protections in respect to evictions and federally backed mortgages including:

Funding for Veterans

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, citizens are being asked to stay inside their homes. While this practice is the responsible thing to do, it is not as simple as it sounds. CARES sets aside money for those who may face challenges being confined to their space for an extended period of time:

Furthermore, this bill makes sure to include veterans. Programs to help Veterans who are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 will receive $590 million. This funding will be used to support the following programs:

Helping At-Risk Youth

The CARES Act also designates a portion of funding toward youth experiencing homelessness.

The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund and the Governors Emergency Education Relief Fund will receive $16 billion. This funding will go directly to State and Local Educational Agencies. These agencies provide essential educational services for youth including meals, educational technology, mental health services and summer programs.

An additional $25 million will be added to the Runaway and Homeless Youth act to supplement existing funding. Ideally, this funding will translate to tangible support these youth need during this uncertain time.

While this is the largest stimulus package in history, one question remains – will it be enough? Given that our country was already amidst an epidemic of homelessness that was largely being ignored by politicians, we don’t think so.


Ryan Polsky

Ryan has a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Media Communication from Colorado State University, and is currently completing an MSW from the University of Southern California. He is passionate about macro-level social work, including communications, policy, program development and research. He recently launched a chess program for youth experiencing homelessness at Safe Place for Youth in Venice, CA. In his spare time, Ryan enjoys live music.

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