HUD Responds on Not Distributing CARES Act Senior Housing Funds

Regulation | June 29, 2020 | by Linda Couch

HUD hopes to “share more information” within the next 30 days on its plan to disperse funds from the March 27 CARES Act. On June 19, HUD’s Office of Multifamily Housing responded to LeadingAge’s June 4 letter on HUD’s non-dispersal of CARES Act funds for affordable senior housing communities.

HUD hopes to “share more information” within the next 30 days on its plan to disperse funds from the March 27 CARES Act. On June 19, HUD’s Office of Multifamily Housing responded to LeadingAge’s June 4 letter on HUD’s non-dispersal of CARES Act funds for affordable senior housing communities.

“HUD is attempting to balance the experiences owners have had to date with the considerable uncertainty about potential future impacts of the COVID-19 virus and the possibility that conditions could deteriorate later in the year. It is unclear when or if additional funding will be made available by Congress,” Multifamily Housing Deputy Assistant Secretary Lamar Seats says in the letter.

The letter continues, “HUD is developing a plan under the CARES Act to provide funding to assist owners with COVID-19 related operating costs and increased costs for service coordination while addressing the need to ensure accountability and manage HUD’s limitations in systems and staffing. HUD hopes to share more information about this effort with our partners in the next 30 days.”

Frustrated at the fact that HUD had yet to distribute COVID-19 relief funds appropriated by the March 27 CARES Act to affordable senior housing communities, LeadingAge wrote to HUD Secretary Ben Carson on June 4.

The CARES Act provided $50 million in emergency funding for the Section 202 program, including up to $10 million for Service Coordinators, as well as $1 billion for Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance. While HUD did distribute $800 million of the PBRA funds, it only did so to make up for reduced tenant incomes, which are unlikely to be prevalent in HUD senior housing communities. To date, Section 202 and PBRA senior communities have received none of the emergency relief dollars provided by the CARES Act.

LeadingAge did not expect to have to advocate within HUD to get the CARES Act funds to affordable senior housing communities. LeadingAge had focused our HUD advocacy work on securing operational flexibilities that will help ensure residents and staff remain as safe from the coronavirus as possible. LeadingAge is working to secure a $1.2 billion package of additional affordable senior housing relief from the Congress’s next COVID-19 package, which is expected to be enacted during the last weeks of July.

Some examples of COVID-19-related costs for communities, residents, and staff are: cleaning and disinfecting, masks and gloves, increased hourly pay, bonus pay for on-site workers, technology to allow teleworking, security to monitor visitors 24 hours / day, testing, thermometers and other screening tools, increased insurance premiums, meals, in-home services to cover gaps in resident supports due to community programs temporarily shutting down, groceries, transportation, laundry, package disinfection and delivery, rent loss from 14-day subsidy cut-off after death of sole resident, and moving in / out expenses.