House Advances Two Axne Bills to Keep Iowans in Their Homes During COVID-19 Crisis and Recession

June 29, 2020
Press Release
Bills included in House Financial Services Committee’s Emergency Housing Protections and Relief Act of 2020

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a legislative package of housing protections that included two bills originally introduced by Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03) to protect renters and homeowners during the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Protect Rural Renters Act and the Coronavirus Housing Counseling Support Act, introduced by Rep. Axne after the outbreak of COVID-19 and referred to her colleagues on the House Financial Services Committee, were both included in today’s Emergency Housing Protections and Relief Act.

“The risks of eviction and foreclosure are only increasing while our families face the combined burdens of a public health crisis and economic recession,” said Rep. Axne. “I’m glad that we have passed this robust legislation today to provide Iowa homeowners and renters the tools and resources they need to keep up with their payments and remain in their homes. In particular, I’m happy to see legislation I wrote to help protect the renters in our rural communities and provide housing counseling assistance for families included in the bill passed today.”

The legislation also includes over $175 billion in emergency relief for renters and homeowners, language to allow for mortgage forbearance and foreclosure protection, and an extension of the eviction moratorium included in the CARES Act to March 2021.

The Emergency Housing Protections and Relief Act includes:

  • $100 billion for assistance to help cover rent, utility bills, and other fees through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Emergency Solutions Grant program
  • $75 billion for a Homeowner Assistance Fund, created by this bill to provide homeowners assistance with keeping up with mortgage payments, property taxes, utility bills, flood insurance premiums, and other related expenses
    • The Fund may also reimburse state and local governments for similar assistance provided since January 2020
  • $309 million for U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Section 515 and Section 521 rental housing programs, to provide assistance for rural renters through Rep. Axne’s Protect Rural Renters Act.
  • $100 million in housing counseling assistance through Rep. Axne’s Coronavirus Housing Counseling Support Act

Rep. Axne has made protecting access to housing and keeping Iowans in their homes a key part of her advocacy during the COVID-19 crisis.

In the first weeks of the public health emergency, Rep. Axne called on federal housing agencies to halt foreclosures on federally backed properties. After receiving her letter, both HUD and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced they were suspending all foreclosures and evictions at properties they oversee. FHFA recently extended that moratorium to August 31.

Last year, the House unanimously passed legislation supported by Rep. Axne that focused on ensuring the long term sustainability of USDA’s rural housing programs. H.R. 3620, the Strategy and Investment in Rural Housing Preservation Actwas advanced by Rep. Axne and fellow members of the House Financial Services Committee in July 2019.

Iowans looking for housing counseling assistance should visit https://www.hud.gov/i_want_to/talk_to_a_housing_counselor to find their local counseling agency.