- President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan into law last week.
- Billions of dollars will go toward relief for struggling renters, homeowners, and the homeless.
- Here’s a breakdown of how the law will affect people who rent, own, or want to buy real estate.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
President Joe Biden officially signed the $1.9 trillion package into law last week.
The goal of the legislation, known as the American Rescue Plan, is to bolster the US economy with relief ranging from restaurant aid to $1,400 stimulus checks to people who qualify.
The plan will also funnel billions of dollars into the housing market to alleviate major pandemic-aggravated issues like rent nonpayment, which will in turn ease the pressure on landlords.
“We’re very pleased that the bill has passed,” said Greg Brown, the senior vice president of government affairs for the National Apartment Association. “Our biggest concern since the beginning of the pandemic has been that renters need help to pay their bills, and housing providers who rise and fall on those rents need the resources to pay their bills.”
Relief for renters, homeowners, and landlords
Since the onset of the pandemic, billions in rent have gone unpaid.
The American Rescue Plan allocates $21.55 billion to emergency rental assistance and $5 billion to emergency housing vouchers. These provisions should serve as a cushion for the millions of Americans behind on rent and the landlords who rely on those monthly payments to pay their own bills.
And to aid homeowners, $9.961 billion will be allocated to a Homeowner Assistance Fund, which will help those behind on their mortgages or already in foreclosure. An additional $100 million will be allocated to housing-counseling services.
Expanding the scope of the aid even further, $100 million will be allocated to rural housing and $750 million to housing needs in Native American communities.
Help for the homeless
The American Rescue Plan will also take aim at the country’s homelessness problem by channeling $5 billion to assistance and supportive services.
Homelessness became an even more pressing issue during the pandemic as more than 22 million people were laid off or furloughed. A lack of access to healthcare on top of an already at-risk living situation placed the existing homeless population at additional risk of contracting COVID-19.
A crisis called the “homeless pandemic” seems imminent, as many renters fear getting kicked out of their homes when eviction moratoriums expire later this year.
There will also be $20 million allocated to the Fair Housing Initiatives Program, which will make sure organizations that work to eliminate housing discrimination or unfair treatment have additional resources to handle things like investigations and complaints that have cropped up during or because of the pandemic.
Eviction and foreclosure moratoriums were not extended, and there’s no first-time homebuyer tax credit
The moratorium on foreclosures for homeowners with federally backed loans is set to end on June 30, while the moratorium on evictions of renters is expected to end on March 31.
The American Rescue Plan is a straightforward spending bill that distributes money to various stakeholders, said Jason Vanslette, a partner at the law firm Kelley Kronenberg.
Because it’s not a policy bill, Vanslette added, it’s easier to pass through a bipartisan Congress.
That’s why some housing incentives Biden proposed during his campaign — including a $15,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers — were not included in the stimulus. They will need to be proposed and passed in separate legislation.
The rollout of the vaccine and the corresponding slowdown in new COVID-19 cases may alleviate unemployment. Additional support from the new stimulus package should help renters and homeowners clear some of the debts accrued during the pandemic.
The June timeline to end the foreclosure moratoriums may need to be reevaluated closer to the date. But Brown said that he thought the end-of-March deadline was appropriate for the eviction moratorium.
“We believe it’s time to end the eviction moratorium,” he said. “Our feelings on that are driven by the fact that moratoriums in general, not just the Centers for Disease Control order but state moratoriums as well, don’t address the underlying and primary issues that we’re having.”
Brown said that funding from the stimulus should be enough to tackle the current issue crippling landlords — unpaid rent.
An extension of the eviction moratoriums beyond March 31 would increase the amount of unpaid rent owed, he added, thus ratcheting up landlord debt even as emergency assistance runs out. That could potentially mean the eviction of some tenants after following standard court proceedings, Brown said, but it would help return the industry to normal market conditions.
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