Updated Heroes Act Includes Sec. 202, Sec. 8, and Service Coordinator Relief

Legislation | September 29, 2020 | by Linda Couch, Linda Couch

The latest House COVID relief bill includes $500 million for HUD’s Section 202 Housing for the Elderly program, including $300 million for new Service Coordinators, and $750 million for the Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance program.

The latest House COVID relief bill includes $500 million for HUD’s Section 202 Housing for the Elderly program, including $300 million for new Service Coordinators, and $750 million for the Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance program. In an effort to reach consensus with the Senate and white House on the next COVID relief package, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a slimmed down version of the Heroes Act, which passed the House in May.

After the HEROES Act was passed in May, LeadingAge worked with its affordable senior housing members to identify ongoing COVID-related relief needs. Those needs were packaged into identical House and Senate bills, H.R. 6873 and S. 4177. Funding for Section 202, Section 8 PBRA, and new Service Coordinators was funded in the original Heroes Act as well as the September 28 updated version of the Heroes Act, a testament to LeadingAge member advocacy to educate Congress on the needs of affordable senior housing providers. To appeal to Senate leadership and the White House, the cost of the September 28 updated Heroes Act is $1.2 trillion less than May’s $3.4 trillion original Heroes Act. That the Section 202, Service Coordinate, and Section 8 PBRA funds remain intact in the updated bill is a victory for LeadingAge members.

The updated Heroes Act does not include a critical piece of LeadingAge’s affordable housing ask: $50 million for the installation of internet service and ongoing service fees for individual affordable housing resident apartments. LeadingAge understands the inability of too many residents to participate in telehealth, to use technology to protect themselves from social isolation, and to connect to community-offered health and wellness programming via the internet.

The updated Heroes Act also includes $309 million for the USDA’s Rural Housing Service, which has yet to receive any relief for COVID expenses whatsoever. And, the bill includes $50 billion for emergency assistance to help low income renters at risk of homelessness avoid eviction due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and $21 million to address the ongoing needs of homeowners struggling to afford their housing due directly or indirectly to the impacts of the pandemic by providing direct assistance with mortgage payments, property taxes, property insurance, utilities, and other housing-related costs.

The House could take the bill up the week of September 28; it is unclear if the Senate will consider the House's olive branch.