COVID-19 Response

7 min read

Policy, Actions, Economic Outlook

Editor’s Note: To help NH&RA members and their residents through the COVID-19 crisis, we have been collecting information from numerous sources on responses by governments, housing agencies, companies and professional associations. We will run this feature in each issue, as long as the crisis persists.

Federal Emergency Preparedness  (Source: HUD)

Q: Who is coordinating COVID-19 efforts for Multifamily Housing (MFH)? Who will be the point of contact for housing providers? 
A: Owners and agents should contact their field MFH account executive or resolution specialist for property specific inquiries. Jeff Little, the associate deputy assistant secretary for MFH Programs, is the main point of contact for Multifamily stakeholders. (Added on 3/12/20)

Q: Have MFH Field Offices been given guidance on how housing providers should prepare and respond to COVID-19?
A: The Office of MFH provides regular direction to field staff. On March 3, the office sent an email message to external stakeholders that encouraged stakeholders to share information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the Coronavirus with residents, stakeholders and others. Please see the following information regarding Emergency Preparedness, Planning, Identification and Messaging for Aging and Disabled Networks: (Updated on 3/16/20)

Q: What emergency preparedness steps does HUD recommend or require property owners and agents take?
A: Owners and agents should generally follow CDC guidelines and the directions given by local health officials for emergency preparedness. Chapter 38 of Handbook 4350.1, Emergency and Disaster Guidance, should also be consulted.

The CDC provides guidance for communities, businesses and schools that can assist housing providers. The CDC has also provided specific guidance for retirement communities and independent living facilities, including federally assisted independent housing with support services for older adults. Please see the following information as well regarding Emergency Preparedness, Planning, Identification and Messaging for Aging and Disabled Networks:

Alerting Residents  (Source: HUD)

Q: In the event of a confirmed COVID-19 case at a HUD-assisted property, what steps should property owners and managers take to protect residents, staff and the community? How should the owner/agent share this information?
A: MFH suggests property owners and agents follow Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines and the direction of local health officials, especially in the event of property quarantine.

HUD recommends that owners/agents create communication plans for distributing timely and accurate information during an outbreak. First, they should identify everyone in their chain of communication (for example, staff, volunteers, key community partners and stakeholders and clients) and establish systems for sharing information. After identifying this information, they should maintain up-to-date contact information for everyone in the chain of communication, as well as identify platforms, such as a hotline, automated text messaging and a website to help disseminate information to those inside and outside of their organizations.

Owners/agents can provide notification of positive COVID-19 cases without giving the name/apartment number/other personally-identifiable information to their residents and staff. HUD reminds them that they continue to remain subject to HIPAA and other privacy laws.

IRS Provides Additional Taxpayer Relief for COVID-19
On April 10, the IRS released Notice 2020-23, providing additional relief to taxpayers affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Among other things, the notice automatically extends the 180-day deadline to invest capital gains in a Qualified Opportunity Fund to July 15 for taxpayers with a deadline between April 1 and July 15.

HUD Multifamily Posts COVID-19 Guidance Call; New Q&A
The Office of Multifamily Housing at HUD posted a recording of its most recent COVID-19 response call. HUD will continue to post recordings on its SoundCloud page due to the overwhelming demand and technical issues on HUD’s conference line. This call provides an overview of the CARES Act funding for assisted housing, foreclosure moratorium and eviction moratorium, as well as RAD and Section 223(f) guidance.


Washington: Guidance for Owners Wishing to Provide Temporary Housing to Victims of COVID-19 Pandemic
Washington State Housing Finance Commission has issued a waiver that allows victims of federally-declared disaster areas to quickly access emergency housing.

Any disaster-displaced households who earn less than 60 percent of area median income can skip several timeconsuming steps when applying for tax credit apartments. The displaced households can remain in their temporary housing through the date noted in the Temporary Housing Notice before having to be income-qualified.

New Hampshire: Emergency Assistance Loan Fund NOFA
At its March meeting, the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority Board of Directors committed $1 million to the Emergency Assistance Loan Fund (EALF) Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for affordable housing partners, including organizations providing for the state’s homeless residents. The funds will assist organizations facing a variety of financial impacts due to the COVID-19 emergency.

Applications will be addressed on a rolling basis, as long as funds are available. The NOFA should be sent to [email protected]. Address questions about this NOFA to Chris Miller or Ted Seely.

Also, the Board expanded its commitment to NHHFA’s Emergency Housing Program with an additional $200,000 allocation. These funds are administered by the state’s Community Action Agencies to provide short-term rental assistance to those in need. New Hampshire Housing is coordinating other funding efforts to support the good work of its partner agencies.

COVID-19 Construction Limits: State-By-State Tracker
Currently, millions of Americans are required to stay at home to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. To ensure the safety and prosperity of their communities, governors and other authorities are allowing “essential” businesses to stay open. The dashboard tracks how states with a stay-at-home mandate classify construction and building material suppliers. Please check back frequently; additional details and resources will be added as they become available.

Economic Outlook (as of April 14)

Thoughts on Recovery from Lindsey M. Piegza, Chief Economist, Stifel

As Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari says, the pathway to an economic recovery from the coronavirus will be a “long, hard road.” We certainly agree; even after closure restrictions are lifted, it will take time for businesses to reconnect to workers and supply chains, and on the demand side, it will take time for consumers to move back into the market, restrained by lingering fears, as well as financial constraints. While the second quarter is likely to be the hardest hit with a contraction of near 20 percent, the economy is likely to remain in negative territory well through the fall, potentially longer.

Since the start of March, the Federal Reserve has taken unprecedented action beyond the moves taken during the financial crisis to support the economy and its key players, including households, small and medium-sized businesses, as well as state and local governments. Amid a myriad of policy announcements, the Fed has committed to an unlimited purchase of assets, lowered the Federal funds rate to zero and launched a total of nine liquidity and lending facilities.

Furthermore, the federal government has pledged over $2 trillion in funding to support U.S. workers and businesses.

Combined, monetary and fiscal efforts are likely to help provide a lifeline to workers struggling to pay rent and put food on the table, as well as businesses having difficulty keeping employees and covering costs, however, it is hardly a panacea. The legislation and liquidity provided will hardly compensate for the full amount of income, revenue, consumption and spending lost as a result of a forced economic shutdown resulting in a painful contraction.

According to the IMF, as a result of a worldwide shutdown, the global economy is also likely to fall into recession, contracting three percent on an annual basis. By 2021, however, the IMF is optimistic growth will return to the black, up nearly six percent for the year. Such optimism, it is worth noting, however, is based on a projection the virus will soon be contained and will not return for a second-round of infections in the fall.

Kaitlyn Snyder is managing director of National Housing & Rehabilitation Association.