President-Elect Biden Announces New COVID Relief Proposal
President-elect Biden has unveiled the “American Rescue Plan,” a $1.9 trillion proposal to address the COVID-19 crisis, including: providing a new round of direct cash payments to individuals and families, extending unemployment benefits, funding rental assistance while extending the federal eviction moratorium, and providing additional aid to states and small businesses.
Regarding rental assistance, the plan includes $25 billion in rental assistance and $5 billion for home energy and water costs. According to information released about the proposal, “these funds will ensure that the hardest-hit renters and small landlords, including those in disadvantaged communities that have suffered disproportionately in terms of pollution and other environmental harms, aren’t put in the position where they can’t cover their own housing expenses.”
The plan extends the federal eviction and foreclosure moratorium through the end of September 2021. It is important to note, however, that in a speech yesterday President-elect Biden announced that his Administration will act next week to extend the eviction moratorium as opposed to waiting for Congress to pass the larger plan.
MHI and its coalition of national housing industry partners are reaching out to Congress and President-elect Biden to emphasize the need for a multi-pronged response to help renters and landlords with the financial impacts of COVID-19. MHI continues to strongly argue that a protracted eviction moratorium is not a sustainable, long-term solution for American families or landlords, and that a robust and target rental assistance program is a better approach.
Below is a summary of key provisions in the “American Rescue Plan,” which will now head to Congress for consideration:
- Provides an additional $1,400 in direct funds to individuals and families.
- Increases unemployment benefits to $400, extended through the end of September and extends benefits for self-employed individuals, independent contractors and gig workers.
- Raises the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.
- Reinstates the paid sick and family leave benefits that expired at the end of December until September 30.
- Expands the Child Tax Credit to $3,600 for children under age 6 and to $3,000 for those between ages 6 and 17 for a year. The credit would also be made fully refundable for 2021.
- Provides $15 billion in grants for small businesses.
- Includes $350 billion in funding assistance for state, local and territorial governments plus $20 billion for public transit systems.
SBA just announced when the PPP portal will open. But there’s a catch.
By Andy Medici
– Senior Staff Reporter, Washington Business Journal
The Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program will officially reopen Jan. 11, the agency confirmed Friday.
The agency will only be accepting what its calling “first-draw” loans from small businesses that have yet to receive a PPP loan, and it will only be accepting those applications from lenders it has signaled as “community financial institutions.” The agency has defined those as Community Development Financial Institutions, minority deposit institutions, certified development companies and microloan intermediaries, which means those lenders will be able to process applications and submit them to the SBA first.
On Jan. 13, small businesses applying for a second PPP loan will be able to do so, but once again only with community financial institutions.
The PPP will then open up to all participating lenders “shortly thereafter,” the agency said as part of its announcement, though it did not specify an exact date. We have asked for additional details on that timeline and will update this story when we hear back. The $284.45 billion program, funded by the new $900 billion federal stimulus bill that passed in December, will run through March 31, according to the agency.
“The historically successful Paycheck Protection Program served as an economic lifeline to millions of small businesses and their employees when they needed it most,” said SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza in a statement. “Today’s guidance builds on the success of the program and adapts to the changing needs of small business owners by providing targeted relief and a simpler forgiveness process to ensure their path to recovery.”
The new program allows small businesses to apply for their first PPP loans, largely under the program’s original rules when it rolled out last year, including a $10 million loan cap and a roughly 500-employee size limit, though that can change depending on the type of business and industry. PPP borrowers can choose between an eight-week or 24-week “covered period,” in which to spend the PPP loan proceeds, of which up to 40% can be used on such business expenses as interest on mortgages, rent and an expanded set of costs, including property damage, supplier costs and personal protective equipment.
Small businesses that have seen at least a 25% quarterly revenue reduction in 2020 compared with the same quarter in 2019 will also be able to apply for a second PPP loan of up to $2 million, according to agency guidance. Small businesses of up to 300 employees are eligible for those. The program has also expanded to include news organizations, destination marketing organizations and nonprofits categorized as 501c(6), which includes local chambers of commerce and trade organizations.
We have already detailed some of the ins and outs of this upcoming PPP round and who qualifies, as well as which lenders will be able to access the portal first when it does go live. This is in addition to a separate $15 billion grant program for live venues and theaters — applicants can only apply and receive funds from one or the other.
The announced opening date comes after the agency released a new set of guidance Wednesday to help govern the program, including that small businesses that are temporarily closed or suspended are still eligible for a second PPP loan. But businesses that are permanently closed are not. It is unclear what criteria SBA will use to differentiate between the two, though the “certification” that business owners make includes a pledge that they do not permanently shutter.
Member Benefit – PA One Call Systems (PA-811)
A New Year means PA One Call System, Inc (PA-811) memberships starts over.
We are pleased to provide PA One Call Systems, Inc. as a membership benefit.
Your first call in 2021 to PA One Call Systems, Inc. will generate an annual fee invoice for $125. This one-time fee covers an unlimited number of notifications in the calendar year.
When invoice is received, send a copy of invoice to me via email email@example.com, fax (717-774-5596) or mail.
We will confirm you are a PMHA member in good standing (membership must be current at time of billing), we will verify membership on the invoice and forward your verified invoice to PA One Call and the annual fee will be waived. We will also send you a copy of the verified invoice for your records.
1st – PA Manufactured Housing Association membership must be current in order to pay the PA One Call Systems invoice.
2nd – Company name on the invoice must match PMHA membership name.
3rd – Membership in PA One Call expires every December 31st so starting January 1, 2021, the entire process started all over again.
Please contact Tracy 888-242-7642 if you have any questions.
PennDOT Extends Expiration Dates on Commercial Driver Licenses & Commercial Learners Permits
Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) announced today that expiration dates for commercial driver licenses and commercial learner’s permits will be extended for Pennsylvania residents in response to statewide COVID-19 mitigation efforts.
The following products’ expiration dates will be extended:
- The expiration date for a commercial learner’s permit scheduled to expire from March 16, 2020, through February 22, 2021, is extended through February 22, 2021.
- The expiration date for commercial driver licenses scheduled to expire from March 16, 2020, through February 22, 2021, is extended through February 22, 2021.
Expiration extension deadlines on non-commercial driver license, photo identification cards, learner’s permits and camera cards ended on August 31, 2020.
For a list of open driver license and photo license centers and the services provided, as well as their hours of operation, please visit www.dmv.pa.gov.
Customers may continue to complete various transactions and access multiple resources online at www.dmv.pa.gov. Driver and vehicle online services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and include driver’s license, photo ID and vehicle registration renewals; driver-history services; changes of address; driver license and vehicle registration restoration letters; ability to pay driver license or vehicle insurance restoration fee; driver license and photo ID duplicates; and schedule a driver’s exam. There are no additional fees for using online services.
PennDOT will continue to evaluate these processes and will communicate any changes with the public.
President Trump Signs $900 Billion Pandemic Relief Package
President Donald Trump finally signed the $900 billion pandemic relief package that delivers relief to businesses and individuals and averts a federal government shutdown.
Overview of What’s In Congress’ COVID-19 Relief Package
- $600 direct payment checks for every adult and child earning up to $75,000. Individuals earning between $75,000 and $99,000 would get smaller checks, and the benefit cuts out entirely for individuals earning over $99,000.
- Rental assistance: The measure includes $25 billion to help families pay their rent, and it extends the eviction moratorium now in effect until Jan. 31.
- SNAP assistance: Democrats say the measure includes an additional $13 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
- Unemployment benefits: Lawmakers agreed to extend enhanced unemployment benefits for jobless workers, who will receive up to $300 per week through mid-March. Self-employed
- PPP loans: The agreement includes some $284 billion for Paycheck Protection Program loans. Democrats say they expanded eligibility for the loans to include nonprofits and local newspapers, along with TV and radio stations. Also, $15 billion would be reserved for live venues, independent movie theaters and cultural institutions, which have been struggling due to pandemic-forced closures.
- Child care centers: According to a Republican summary of the plan, the measure includes $10 billion for child care centers to help providers safely reopen.
- The agreement includes some $68 billion to purchase and distribute COVID-19 vaccines and help states conduct testing. According to the Republican summary, $20 billion of that funding will make the vaccine available at no cost for anybody needing it. Broadband access.
- The measure contains $7 billion to increase access to broadband Internet, including a new Emergency Broadband Benefit that Democrats say will help millions of students’ families and unemployed workers afford the broadband they need during the pandemic.
Lawmakers also agreed to provide $45 billion in transportation-related assistance, including:
- $16 billion for airlines to pay the salaries of workers and contractors.
$14 billion for mass transit agencies.
$10 billion for highways.
$1 billion for Amtrak.
- The measure contains $82 billion in funding for schools and universities to assist with reopening, including, according to a Republican summary, $2.75 billion for private K-12 education.
- There is some $13 billion in the measure for farmers and agriculture, including money under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program for growers and livestock, dairy and poultry producers.
- The measure also includes a provision ending surprise medical billing. Republicans say patients would be required to receive a “true and honest cost estimate” three days before any scheduled procedure and that billing disputes would be subject to arbitration.
- Lawmakers also included a provision sought by President Trump, making the cost of meals a deductible business expense.
More specifically here is an outline on the Rental Assistance Program in the package…
As stated above, the package includes $25 billion for rental assistance covering rent, utilities, and arrears similar to the Coronavirus Relief Fund called the Emergency Rental Assistance program.
- Funds will be available for 12 months of rent, utilities, and arrears with a possible three-month extension.
- Applications will be for a three-month period, and if at the time of application, the tenant only lists their current month’s income they must resubmit the application every three months with updated income information for any additional assistance.
- There will be no assistance given for prospective rent unless funding has also been provided to reduce arrears.
Flexibility for States and Localities
Administered through the Treasury Department, funding will go directly to states or large local governments. This gives the states and localities flexibility in how the funding is delivered and will allow states that already have a rental assistance program to continue with their current structure. Compared to the HUD Emergency Solutions Grant proposal, this gives states and local governments greater flexibility to choose what works best for them.
It is unknown at this time how PA will be administrating this program. PMHA is currently working with the PA legislature and the PA Treasury to determine how this program will be administered in Pennsylvania.
Protections for Property Owners
There are guardrails for funding that would require payment to go directly to the property or utility company, and landlords may request rental assistance on behalf of their tenants. If the landlord wants to request assistance on behalf of their tenant they must:
- Obtain a signature from the tenant on the application (can be electronic);
- Share documentation of the application with the tenant; and
- Ensure any funds obtained from the application are used towards rent or arrears.
If the property owner refuses direct funding assistance, the payment will then go directly to the household.
An eligible household is defined as one of the following:
- One or more individuals within the household has qualified for unemployment or has experienced a significant reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship due to COVID-19.
- One or more individuals within the household can demonstrate risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability, which may include:
o Past due utility, rent, or eviction notice
o Unsafe or unhealthy living conditions, or
o Any other evidence determined by the grantee (state or locality)
- Household with an Area Median Income (AMI) of 80% or below.
The funding is geared to households that are 50% of AMI or lower and capped at 80% AMI. There is also a preference given if one or more individuals in a household has been unemployed for at least 90 days at the time of the application. However, only current income is considered to better target those who have had significant financial impacts from COVID-19.
This legislation extends the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium until Jan. 31, 2021.
Current Coronavirus Relief Funds that provide funding for states and local governments to combat COVID-19 and the economic impact of the pandemic were extended another 12 months through Dec. 31, 2021.
** The Treasury Department will need to release guidance to the states on the application process and it’s possible that each state may have its own application.
PMHA will continue to provide you information as it becomes available.