Looking beyond the CARES Act

By David Sanchez, Director of Research & Development 

As the federal government’s response to COVID-19 has been rapidly evolving, NCST has been front and center reminding policy makers of the importance of NCST Community Buyers and the communities they serve.  NCST has been advocating for the protections that homeowners and renters need now, while ensuring that we rebuild from the COVID crisis in a way that makes communities stronger.

The federal CARES Act, which became law at the end of March, contains a number of important provisions to protect homeowners and renters and to limit the crisis’ effect on housing and community development.

These include:

  • For homeowners with federally-backed mortgages, a right to forbearance, or a temporary pause in mortgage payments, and a prohibition on foreclosure until mid-May.  (In response to NCST advocacy, the foreclosure prohibition excludes vacant and abandoned properties).
  • For most renters whose landlords have single- or multifamily mortgages, a prohibition on eviction for nonpayment of rent and from charging late fees until the end of July.
  • More than $12 billion in funding for housing-related programs, with most of the funding going to state and local governments to help homeless citizens shelter in place and deal with emergencies.
  • Small business grants and lending through the Small Business Administration intended to help businesses and nonprofits survive and retain their workers.

While these steps are important, there is much more Congress needs to do.  The Act’s homeowner protections do not cover 30 percent of homeowners, and there are lingering concerns about whether servicers are delivering homeowners the relief they’re entitled to.  The rental protections only cover about one quarter of all renters, many of whom won’t know whether they’re protected, and do far less to support renters and landlords than rental assistance would.  And communities reeling from the effects of COVID-19 – many of whom were struggling before this crisis – need more resources and new tools to rebuild.

NCST continues to work with federal agencies and leaders in the House and Senate to expand the homeowner and renter protections and to create new resources to modify mortgages, prevent evictions, and revitalize communities.  We are also putting front and center the success of NCST Community Buyers, reminding policymakers that proven tools like NCST’s REOMatch platform can help rebuild communities by creating affordable homeownership opportunities.

Our advocacy is made stronger by the strength of NCST’s Buyer network and national and local partnerships.  We encourage you to continue sharing your on-the-ground experience and challenges with us and to let us know how you think we can best recover from this crisis.