Affordable Housing Online is monitoring the federal government's response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.
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
In many cases, no you cannot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has temporarily halted evictions for most Americans due to the coronavirus pandemic until June 30, 2021.
Called a moratorium on evictions, it means that qualified renters are be protected from getting evicted until the moratorium is lifted.
The CDC moratorium was most recently scheduled to expire on March 31, 2021, but was extended in March.
You can read more information on eviction policies during the coronavirus pandemic here.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/can-I-be-evicted-if-I-cant-pay-rent-because-of-coronavirus
For Housing Choice Voucher landlords, if the tenant has lost their job because of the Coronavirus or for any other reason, the family needs to immediately report the change in income to the PHA. The PHA will do a new calculation and based on the new circumstances, most likely lower the portion of rent paid by the family and raise the amount the PHA pays directly to the landlord.
For landlords not participating in HUD or Government funded housing programs, there are rental assistance programs offered by states. Unfortunately, application deadlines for many states have passed. For example, in Maryland there was a re-launch of its Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) for landlords in October but the deadline to apply was November 10, 2020. Same in Pennsylvania, Virginia and other states. However, some states are still taking coronavirus rental assistance applications for tenants, although many of those program deadlines have also passed. As of November 17, 2020, another coronavirus relief bill is being discussed in the Senate. To learn how to contact your Senator to voice your concerns, you may use this link: https://www.senate.gov/senators/How_to_correspond_senators.htm
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/coronavirus-assistance-for-landlords
Yes, the CDC Moratorium doesn't stop landlords from charging late fees (although some local ordinances do) and it does not wipe out the back rent owed. If you are not paying rent during the Moratorium, you might have a huge rent bill due after December 31, 2020 and then be evicted for non-payment.
For HUD program participants should contact their Housing Authority and report loss of income so rent can be adjusted to meet the current situation. This way, you won't owe a lot of money after the CDC Moratorium ends.
Landlords cannot evict for non-payment of rent until after December 31, 2020 (if the renter meets the requirements and signs a declaration). Before the rent you owe piles up, take action. Contact your landlord and ask to pay back rent on a payment plan or ask your landlord to lower your rent for a few months until you get back on your feet. If you already owe a lot of money, you might want to talk to a lawyer or contact legal aid to get help navigating the eviction laws in your state or city, before the CDC Moratorium ends on December 31, 2020..
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/pay-back-rent-when-cdc-mortatorium-ends
Updated March, 2021
Taxpayers are eligible for the American Rescue Plan Payments if their adjusted gross income does not exceed $75,000 for single-filers, or $150,000 for married joint-filers with no children.
The cutoff cap for receiving no check at all is an adjusted gross income of $80,000 for single-filers, and $160,000 for married joint-filers with no children.
The adjusted gross income for Americans will be based on the 2019 or 2020 Tax Returns, whichever was most recently filed. For persons who didn't receive the past two stimulus checks, contact the IRS.
More information about the government stimulus payment can be found here:
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/who-qualifies-for-the-government-stimulus-payment
Many taxpayers will be receiving a $1,400 payment. Single-filers with income less than $80,000 but more than $75,000 will receive a smaller amount than $1,400. This is also the same for married joint-filers making less than $160,000 but more than $150,000.
The plan also calls for dependents to receive $1,400, each. This time, that will include adult dependents. For example, an eligible family of three would receive $4,200.
More information about Economic Impact Payments can be found here:
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/how-much-will-I-get-from-the-government-stimulus-payment
Most taxpayers who are qualified don’t need to do anything.
For those who have not yet filed their return for 2020, the IRS will use information from their 2019 tax filing to calculate the payment. The American Rescue Plan Payment will be deposited directly into the same banking account as listed on the tax return filed.
If you receive Social Security, you will automatically receive your payment, without further action.
If you did not submit direct deposit information to the IRS, and you are eligible, you will receive a mailed check or debit card in April or May.If you did not receive the first or second Economic Impact Payment, visit the IRS page here.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/how-do-I-get-the-government-stimulus-payment
As a result of the country’s economic downturn during the coronavirus outbreak, the U.S. government has issued stimulus checks to qualified taxpayers. Officially called Economic Impact Payments, three different payments have been made to qualified Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic:
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).
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/what-is-the-government-stimulus-payment
No, you will not have to owe the government back any of the stimulus check payments that taxpayers have received.
The government did not use the first two stimulus checks as taxable income, and this third payment will be handled the same way. You will not pay taxes on the money, and the money will not be deducted from any potential tax refund.
Also, if you owe back taxes to the federal government, the American Rescue Plan payment will not be taken to pay the taxes that you might owe
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/will-I-have-to-pay-back-the-government-stimulus-payment-that-I-get
Yes, states, cities, and counties do have COVID-19 rental assistance programs for renters affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The application period for many local programs are currently open as of March, 2021.
You can learn about local coronavirus rental assistance programs here.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/coronavirus-rental-assistance-programs
Economic Impact Payments will begin to be sent out the weekend of March 13, 2021, now that the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 has been signed by President Biden.
If you're looking how to track when your stimulus payment is coming, read our FAQ here:
How can I track when my government stimulus payment is coming?
Payments will first be made to those with direct deposit bank account information already set up with the IRS.
Sometime in April or May, checks or debit cards will be mailed to those eligible Americans without IRS direct deposit.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/when-will-I-get-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?
No, 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
Yes. In December, 2020, Congress passed a coronavirus stimulus package that will extend the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s national eviction moratorium through the end of January, 2021.
It was previously set to expire on December 31, 2020.
Low-income housing advocates are urging the Biden administration to extend the moratorium for additional months, as soon as President-elect Biden assumes office. But there is no confirmation yet on if this will happen.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/eviction-moratorium-extended
Because of COVID-19, many states and local governments have put in place guidelines or requirements about entering your apartment, to keep people safe from spreading the virus. Check with your local public health department on the rules in your area.
If there are no rules to enforce limited entry into your apartment during the COVID-19 pandemic, then suggest to your landlord to do remote virtual tours of the apartment. Also, in most cases, your landlord must give you at least 24-hours written notice of the visit. If the landlord insists on continuing to show your apartment to potential buyers, remind him to sanitize door handles or anything touched by the landlord or visitors, wear masks and keep at least six feet away from you. You should also sanitize too, before and after the visit. Also check your lease to see if there are any rules about access or entering your apartment.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/landlord-is-having-people-tour-protections-due-to-coronavirus
It has been estimated that stimulus payments will be deposited within two weeks of President Joe Biden singing the latest COVID-19 relief bill, the American Rescue Plan. The American Rescue Plan was signed by President Biden on March 11, 2021; meaning that those who receive Social Security could receive their payment by the end of March.
Payments will be made automatically, and recipients do not need to do anything to get them.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/I-get-direct-deposit-social-security-when-will-I-get-my-stimulus-payment
For the two previous stimulus checks given to taxpayers, the IRS built a web portal that allowed people who had not yet filed their taxes to submit their direct deposit information. However, it is not yet confirmed if the portal can be used for the third stimulus payment signed into law by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
As of March 12, 2021, the IRS web page on this subject says "2021 Economic Impact Payment Coming Soon. Check back soon for information on the 2021 Economic Impact Payment. We’re reviewing the tax provisions of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, signed into law on March 11, 2021."
If the web portal opens again, or another method is made available for non-tax filers to submit information to get direct deposit of the upcoming American Rescue Plan payments, Affordable Housing Online will provide information, and/or a link to the IRS web portal.
Note: The Free File Fillable Forms website that is 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
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.
The method of applying has not been changed after President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 into law. The only update is that the program has been extended until September 6, 2021.
For more information on Pandemic Unemployment Assistance:
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/how-do-I-apply-for-pandemic-unemployment-assistance
The IRS created this page allowing taxpayers to check the status of their Economic Impact Payments.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/how-can-I-track-when-my-stimulus-payment-is-coming
This Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program provides 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:
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.
The qualifications for PUA have not been changed after President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 into law. The only update is that the program has been extended until September 6, 2021.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/who-qualifies-for-pandemic-unemployment-assistance
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) recipients will get the same benefit amount that is normally allowed 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 $300 per week to PUA eligible workers who have become unemployed between the start date of the state's PUA agreement, and September 6, 2021.
What is the coverage period for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance?
PUA will be paid to eligible workers who become unemployed between January 27, 2020 and September 6, 2021
Individuals will receive benefits for up to 39 weeks from when coverage begins.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/how-much-money-will-I-get-from-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.
PEUC was extended until September 6, 2021, after President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 into law.
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
Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) is a temporary federal program that gives an additional $300 per week in unemployment benefits to workers who became unemployed because of COVID-19 restrictions and shut-downs.
In March, 2021, the FPUC payments were extended until September 6, 2021, after President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 into law.
FPUC 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-federal-pandemic-unemployment-compensation
Updated March, 2021
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is a temporary federal program that supplies unemployment benefits for those persons who become fully or partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work due to COVID-19 on or after January 27, 2020 and were not eligible to receive traditional unemployment compensation or PEUC. The PUA program is for self-employed people, independent contractors, gig-workers, and part-time workers. 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.
The PUA program has been extended until September 6, 2021; after President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/what-is-pandemic-unemployment-assistance
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
Yes, regular unemployment benefits are considered income for HUD subsidized housing, including housing assistance provided by the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher, Public Housing, and Project-based Section 8 programs.Temporary or non-recurring unemployment benefit payments, such as the $600 per week enhancement provided by the CARES Act between April 5, 2020 and July 31, 2020, are generally excluded from income calculations.
Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/does-unemployment-affect-section-8
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