Affordable Housing Online is monitoring the federal government's response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. As of March 13, 2020, Public Housing Agencies across the nation are closing their doors to the public. Most offices are still running and will communicate by phone, email, or mail. Some offices have drop boxes installed outside, so documents can still be hand-delivered. Visit the housing authority's website for the latest on its current operations, if one is available. If there is no information online, contact the housing authority directly. Due to a high volume of calls and modified office hours in most areas, expect a long wait time (days or weeks) for a response. To find your local PHA's contact info, browse by state here.
An extensive list of coronavirus resources for low-income households can be found here.
In most cases, you must report a change of your household's income. If you’re participating in a rental subsidy program managed by a Public Housing Agency (aka, housing authority) or private management company, change of income policies are mostly determined individually by each office. Your requirements on reporting a change of income are based on the guidelines given by that housing agency.
That being said, most offices do require residents to report a change of income to be submitted soon after the change has occurred (usually within 10 days).
Check your lease to find out if it’s required to immediately report a change of income. If it’s not required immediately, wait to report your income at the required time stated in the lease (note that some programs, like the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program, do not require income recertifications). If you cannot find this information, Affordable Housing Online recommends that you report your change of income.
To report your change of income, you must submit a change of income form. Depending on each office’s operations, this form may be available online or in the office.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/do-I-have-to-do-anything-if-Im-on-a-rental-subsidy-program-and-become-unemployed-or-lose-hours-from-coronavirus
Most Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) – commonly known as housing authorities – are still open; but are operating on a limited basis. Affordable housing Online has checked the status of numerous housing authority office operations nationwide, and there is no common scenario.
June, 2020 Update: In certain areas of the country, housing authorities are starting to open back up to the public on a limited basis. There still will usually be a maximum number of people allowed in the office at one time, and appointments may have to be scheduled to visit the office in person.
Many offices that are closed to the public still have staff working in the office or off-site. Some of these offices have a drop box installed outside of the office that allows applicants and residents to submit required documents. There are also some offices that have an intercom installed outside of the office, so you can speak with staff directly. Some offices are also open to the public on an extremely limited basis. In these cases, a limited number of persons can be in the building at the same time.
Communication is generally still being conducted by phone, email and mail. But due to these unorthodox times, expect a long wait time to reach a representative and/or receive a response to your inquiry. If a housing authority runs a website or social media page, chances are that there’s a COVID-19 update explaining their change in office operations.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/are-housing-authorities-still-open-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak
Updated as of July 31, 2020
Renters can get evicted for not paying rent that is due if their area does not have an eviction moratorium in effect. However, renters in areas that do have a moratorium on eviction currently in effect are protected from being evicted if they can't pay rent.
The eviction moratorium for renters in federal housing properties has expired as of July 25, 2020. It is unknown if it will be extended for federal housing programs.
You can find out if your area has a moratorium on evictions in effect here.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/can-I-be-evicted-if-I-cant-pay-rent-because-of-coronavirus
This is an economic impact payment being made by the U.S. government to qualified taxpayers, as a result of the country’s economic downturn during the coronavirus outbreak. Officially called Economic Impact Payments, they were signed into law by President Trump as one of the provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (better known as the CARES Act) on March 27, 2020.
The payment by the government will be made either by direct deposit, or a physical check, depending on the information you provided to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
More information about the government stimulus payment can be found here:
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/what-is-the-government-stimulus-payment
Taxpayers are eligible for Economic Impact Payments as long as their adjusted gross income does not exceed $99,000 for single-filers, or $198,000 for married joint-filers with no children.
You’re eligible even if you have not submitted your tax return for 2018 or 2019. Although the IRS urges people to file as soon as they can so they can get their payment, and to include direct deposit banking information on the return.
You also qualify if you are a taxpayer who is not normally required to file a tax return, such as senior citizens, Social Security recipients and railroad retirees.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/who-qualifies-for-the-government-stimulus-payment
According to the IRS, most taxpayers who are qualified don’t need to do anything. According to the IRS, “For people who have already filed their 2019 tax returns, the IRS will use this information to calculate the payment amount. For those who have not yet filed their return for 2019, the IRS will use information from their 2018 tax filing to calculate the payment. The economic impact payment will be deposited directly into the same banking account reflected on the return filed.”
If you receive Social Security, you will automatically receive your payment, without further action.
If the IRS does not have your direct deposit information, you can submit it through the official IRS online portal that is available here. Note: The "freefilefillableforms.com" site provided by the IRS is the only valid website where you can submit this information. If any other web page claims it can be used for this purpose, it is fraudulent.
If you do not submit direct deposit information, you will receive a mailed check in later weeks.
More information about Economic Impact Payments can be found here:
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/how-do-I-get-the-government-stimulus-payment
Economic Impact Payments are expected to begin by April 17, 2020 and paper checks will start to be mailed out on April 24, 2020, according to multiple sources.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on April 2 that qualified taxpayers who have their direct deposit information on file will get their payment "within two weeks." An article by NBC News also said that it obtained a memo stating the start of payments was “likely” to be the week of April 13. These both suggest the same timeframe.
If you have not given the IRS your direct deposit information, The Washington Post reported on April 2 that paper checks won't be mailed until April 24. It could take almost five months to issue all paper checks.
Taxpayers with the lowest income will receive checks first. These are the dates the IRS plans to mail checks for those who earn under the amount of each income tier:
April 24: $10,000May 1: $20,000May 8: $30,000May 15: $40,000May 22: $50,000May 29: $60,000June 5: $70,000June 12: $80,000June 19: $90,000June 26: $100,000July 3: $110,000July 10: $120,000July 17: $130,000July 24: $140,000July 31: $150,000August 7: $160,000August 14: $170,000August 21: $180,000August 28: $190,000September 4: $198,000
If you’re not set to receive your payment when it starts being sent out to taxpayers, don’t worry. The IRS assures on its website that payments will be available throughout the rest of 2020.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/when-will-I-get-the-government-stimulus-payment
No, you will not have to owe the government back the CARES Act stimulus payment that all taxpayers are due to receive.
Affordable Housing Online's research has found that the CARES Act contains a provision that makes the government look upon the stimulus check as both a tax refund and a tax credit.
If you overpaid your taxes in 2020 and the government owes you a refund in 2021, your refund will be based on your 2020 income without the stimulus check money added as income, because you will also receive a special tax credit deduction for the same amount.
So, your stimulus check is canceled out as income and not deducted from what you would get as a tax refund in 2021.
Or as another example, look at it this way:
If the amount of taxes you owe on your 2020 taxable income is $3,000, but you actually paid $4,000; then the government would owe you a tax refund of $1,000.
If you receive the stimulus payment, that income will be cancelled out by a tax credit that's equal to the amount you received.
As a result, it does not increase your taxable income, and you would get the full amount of $1,000 in 2021 as your tax refund.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/will-I-have-to-pay-back-the-government-stimulus-payment-that-I-get
Single-file taxpayers with income less than $75,000, and joint-filing taxpayers with income less than $150,000 will receive a payment of $1,200, with $500 more for each child. Qualified filers who earn more than the $75,000/$150,000 threshold will have their payment reduced by $5 for each $100 above the threshold.
It was originally reported that qualified taxpayers who do not usually file a tax return would receive $1,200, without any additional money for dependents. However, those reports were either incorrect, or the IRS changed their policy to allow these recipients to add their dependents to increase their stimulus check. As of April 22 at noon, the online portal to provide this information has closed. These recipients who did not report their dependents will receive $1,200.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/how-much-will-I-get-from-the-government-stimulus-payment
Most Public Housing Agencies (aka, housing authorities) are still completing emergency inspections and vacant-unit inspections for new moves, but have suspended annual inspections.
According to the COVID-19 FAQs for PHAs, the “CARES Act legislation provides HUD the ability to waive statute or regulations and impose alternative requirements to provide PHAs with flexibilities necessary to respond to COVID-19.”
PHAs are able to use different methods to complete annual inspections (PIH 2016-05), and for validating the correction of a deficiency (for example- a photo or owner certification).
Some PHAs like the Houston Housing Authority, are completing virtual inspections using technology to visually tour the unit and issuing conditional passes of inspections if no emergency deficiencies are obvious. Other PHA’s are accepting owner certifications for inspections but will follow up later, with a physical inspection after the safety concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic are over.
Small rural PHAs also have the option to move inspections to every two or three years, if they use different streamlining methods.
Whatever inspection method the PHA chooses, it must be explained to the landlord and resident in a reasonable amount of time before the inspection is due.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/are-housing-authority-inspections-still-happening-while-the-coronavirus-crisis-continues
Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher ports are still being processed by many Public Housing Agencies (aka, housing authorities) around the country, but the decision is up to each individual office.
HUD issued coronavirus guidance about this to PHAs at the end of March, saying, “PHAs should continue to process incoming and outgoing ports similarly to how they are handling all operational issues at this time. PHAs are encouraged to consider processing portability requests through electronic communications, teleconferences, and phone communications to the extent practicable. HUD is not considering a portability waiver at this time.”
This guidance is only a recommendation, though, and PHAs are allowed to refuse voucher porting requests at this time.
Affordable Housing Online contacted a Regional HUD Specialist who stated most PHA’s have language in their Administrative Plans, that say, “at the discretion of the Executive Director”, and HUD is encouraging PHA’s to exercise good judgment without breaking fair housing or any other rules.
We also contacted a PHA Portability Specialist who noted that “Many PHAs are still processing port-ins and port-outs as they normally would and so far, HUD has not issued any guidance regarding the suspension of porting.”
Even if ports are still being processed, there may be some issues with landlords accepting vouchers until State stay-in-place orders are lifted.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/are-housing-authority-voucher-ports-still-happening-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak
If a Public Housing Agency (aka, housing authority) was issuing new Section 8 vouchers before the COVID-19 crisis, it may try to continue doing so; but most PHAs have suspended the issuance of new vouchers. This applies to the following voucher programs:
A PHA may use its ability to extend the expiration date of that voucher. Vouchers can be extended to 120 days or more, if deemed necessary.
If you have recently been issued a new voucher and are having a hard time finding a new unit, don’t assume the PHA has suspended or extended the time on the voucher. Contact the PHA before the original expiration date of the voucher to request an extension.
For specific information about how your PHA is proceeding with the issuance of vouchers, also contact your PHA.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/are-section 8-vouchers-being-issued-by-housing-authorities-in-the-middle-of-the-coronavirus-pandemic?
An online portal has been created to submit direct deposit information for those who are eligible to receive the CARES Act government stimulus payment, but do not have direct deposit information on record with the IRS.
The link to the web portal can be found on the IRS website here. Select the blue button that says "Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here." A valid email address is required to log into this portal.
The IRS stresses that you should not complete this form if:
The form will ask you for the following information:
Note: The "freefilefillableforms.com" site provided by the IRS is the only valid website where you can submit this information. If any other web page claims it can be used for this purpose, it is fraudulent.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/how-do-I-give-my-direct-deposit-information-to-get-my-government-stimulus-check
You can track the status of your CAREs Act stimulus payment (officially called Economic Impact Payments) on the IRS website. Follow these steps to track your payment:
1. Go to the IRS web page here: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment
2. Select the blue button that says "Get My Payment."
NOTE: The name of this button can be misleading. It only gives you information about receiving your payment. It is not used to get your payment.
3. Read the notice, and select the blue "OK" button.
4. Enter your Social Security Number or Individual Tax ID Number (whichever you used to file your taxes), Date of Birth, and Address; then select the blue "Continue" button.
5. The next screen will tell you the date your payment was issued and to what bank account it was sent.
This screen will also state the following: “If you don't see your payment credited to your account, check with your bank to verify they received it. We will mail you a letter with additional information on this payment.”
Some may get a message saying "Payment Status Not Available." The IRS Economic Impact Payment FAQ says that you may get this message for one of the following reasons:
You can check the app again to see whether there has been an update to your information. Get My Payment data is updated once per day, so there’s no need to check back more frequently."
An article by The Verge also says the same message "also appears if you simply enter a made-up social security number, birth date, and address combination, so it appears to be generic catch-all error for the system, instead of a useful or actionable error message."
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/how-can-I-track-when-my-stimulus-payment-is-coming
The IRS will be sending Economic Impact Payments to people receiving Social Security by direct deposit later this month, likely during the week of April 20. Payments will be made automatically and recipients do not need to do anything to get them.
People receiving Supplement Security Income (SSI) will also automatically get payments, and IRS officials expects these to go out no later than early May.
Source: USA Today
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/I-get-direct-deposit-social-security-when-will-I-get-my-stimulus-payment
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) recipients will get the same benefit amount that is normally allowed under for unemployment compensation under the state law where they were employed. U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) guidance also says the amount would never be less than the minimum benefits received by the Disaster Unemployment Assistance program.
Another CARES Act program called Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) will give an additional $600 per week to PUA eligible workers who have become unemployed between the start date of the state's PUA agreement, and July 31, 2020.
What is the coverage period for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance?
PUA will be paid to eligible workers who become unemployed between January 27, 2020 and December 31, 2020, for most areas. According to the guidelines, in states where the week of unemployment ends on a Saturday, coverage will end on December 26, 2020; and in states where the week of unemployment ends on a Sunday, coverage will end on December 27, 2020.
Individuals will receive benefits for up to 39 weeks from when coverage begins.
When will I start getting my Pandemic Unemployment Assistance payments?
People who file new claims should be getting their first payments within “two to three weeks” of filing, according to an April 10 report by CNN. There’s no set date for states to start making PUA payments, and the CNN report says some states are having difficulty because their departments need to update their systems.
For more information on Pandemic Unemployment Assistance:
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/how-much-money-will-I-get-from-pandemic-unemployment-assistance
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is a temporary federal program that extends qualification of unemployment benefits for those who become fully or partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work due to COVID-19 on or after January 27, 2020; and are not eligible to receive or have already exhausted traditional unemployment compensation programs. It was created as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was signed by President Trump in March, 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/what-is-pandemic-unemployment-assistance
This Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program extends unemployment benefits to workers who are either:
Benefits will be given to these workers who have become fully or partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work due to any of the following reasons:
For those who have already exhausted their regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits, another CARES Act program called Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) provides 13 additional weeks of unemployment payments to PUA eligible workers.
Workers do not qualify for PUA if they:
Where is the PUA program is available?
All states and territories, including Washington, D.C., have agreed to participate in the PUA program. However, either the DOL or a state may give thirty days written notice to terminate the PUA Agreement.
The DOL says it has the right to terminate an agreement with a state or territory if that area, “does not have an adequate system for administering such assistance.” If an agreement is terminated, payments will still be made for weeks of unemployment that were on or before the termination date.
So, it is possible that some areas may not offer the program at some point in the future.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/who-qualifies-for-pandemic-unemployment-assistance
To apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), you must apply for unemployment through your state’s labor department. Even though this is a federal program, the qualifications and benefit amount are still based on individual state laws.
If you have access to the Internet, visit the department’s website first to see if you can apply online. Department phone lines across the nations are likely extremely busy during these times, so if you have to call, expect very long wait times.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/how-do-I-apply-for-pandemic-unemployment-assistance
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) provides 13 additional weeks of unemployment payments to workers who have already exhausted their regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits.
It was created as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was signed by President Trump in March, 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
For more information on Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and related programs:
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/what-is-pandemic-emergency-unemployment-compensation
o, the temporary federal enhancement to unemployment ($600 weekly) provided by the CARES Act is not included as annual income for Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher and Public Housing tenants. However, regular unemployment payments issued by the state that are not part of the CARES Act stimulus package are counted as income and should be reported to the housing authority.
State paid unemployment benefits have always been considered as annual income for the Housing Choice Voucher and Public Housing Programs. Temporary, non-recurring payments are not counted as annual income for those housing programs.
The Housing Choice Voucher and Public Housing federal regulation addressing excluded income can be found here. Also see page 10, Question 5 in HUD’s Questions and Answers for Multi-Family Housing Stakeholders, found here.
For information on similar questions, read: Are Section 8 tenants required to report their income from the government stimulus check?
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/do-unemployment-benefits-affect-income-requirements-during-coronavirus
Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) is a is a temporary federal program that gave an additional $600 per week in unemployment benefits to workers who became unemployed between the start date of their state's PUA agreement, and July 31, 2020. These benefits have not yet been extended past the end of July.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/what-is-federal-pandemic-unemployment-compensation
Yes, Section 8 voucher holders may be able to temporarily relocate if living conditions become unsafe due to coronavirus. However, you may still be responsible for your portion of the monthly rent for your home unless there is a suspension on rent payments in your area.
Contact your caseworker and tell them the situation and request approval to leave the apartment on a temporary basis. It is very important to ask what the procedure is, get their decision in writing, and keep in contact with your apartment manager and your caseworker during the time you are absent.
Be aware that Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) can request additional information from you to verify the need for relocation and PHAs are not required to grant these requests, in advance of a specific local health department directive.
PHAs can also request verification from a medical health professional or the state or local health department as part of reviewing special requests related to COVID-19.
PHAs can allow current resident families to use vacant units for temporary relocation if separation is recommended by the health department or a medical health professional.
Under Housing Choice Voucher rules, participants can be absent from the family, on a temporary basis for up to 180 executive days for many different reasons, including illness. But usually it is the participant with the illness that is leaving. In these times of social distancing, the caseworker may decide there is a good cause to permit you to leave on a temporary basis.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/section-8-voucher-temporary-relocation-due-to-coronavirus
For the most part, if you owe the government money for debts like back taxes or vehicle violations, your stimulus payment will not be used to pay it off; but there is at least one case in which it will.
People who owe child support through their state’s Family Court system, will have their stimulus payment reduced by the amount that they owe.
Affordable Housing Online is not currently aware of any other situations in which this would occur.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/if-I-owe-money-to-the-government-will-my-payment-be-taken
Most likely yes, and you would risk getting evicted if you do not pay. Even though there are suspensions of evictions during the COVID-19 outbreak, no federal legislation has been passed that would prevent renters from having to pay back owed rent.
Your best move right now is to contact your landlord as soon as possible and try to work out a payment plan or if you can pay something, ask if a partial payment would be acceptable. Also, re-read your lease and review what it states about missed rent payments.
There proposals being made in Congress to help renters avoid eviction when the pandemic is over. One bill, the Emergency Rental Assistance Act of 2020, would let more households qualify for a government program that gives emergency short-term rental assistance, called Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG). However, no such legislation has been passed yet.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/if-I-dont-pay-my-rent-will-I-owe-the-rent-when-coronavirus-is-over
Many states and cities quickly passed laws forbidding disconnection of water additional utilities during the coronavirus emergency, so it depends on where you live and what your local utility companies are doing.
Many utility companies have decided on their own to suspend disconnections. Some utility companies are also not charging late fees or freezing the accumulation of late fees, until the coronavirus emergency is declared to be over.
However, a few utility companies have not made the move to suspend utility disconnections. At this time, that includes utility companies that serve portions of Arizona, Tennessee, North Carolina, Texas, Louisiana and parts of the midwest and east coast.
The Energy Policy Institute is keeping lists of of utility companies who have suspended disconnections and those who have not clearly announced suspension of disconnections here: https://www.energyandpolicy.org/utilities-disconnect-coronavirus/
Also, cell phone service providers Verizon and AT&T, have suspended disconnections while the coronavirus emergency is going on. T-Mobile announced it is providing unlimited data to all current data customers, for sixty days.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/are-there-protections-if-I-cant-pay-utilities-during-coronavirus
No, Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher tenants do not need to report the income they get from the government stimulus check to their housing authority. Under the Housing Choice Voucher code of federal regulations, these types of payments are not considered as part of a participant’s annual income.
According to HUD’s FAQ’s for Public Housing Agencies (which is geared toward answering questions for housing authority management staff), stimulus payments made directly to individuals and families would be excluded from income, as they are temporary, non-recurring payments (per 24 CFR 5.609). HUD’s entire FAQ for Public Housing Agencies can be found here.
For information on similar questions, read: Do unemployment benefits affect Section 8 and Public Housing income requirements during coronavirus?
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/are-section-8-tenants-required-to-report-income-from-the-stimulus-check
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