How Team Trump is racing to protect our homes amid coronavirus

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America’s households are playing a vital role in our fight against the coronavirus. The White House Coronavirus Task Force and public-health experts have been clear: The best way to prevent illness and protect those most vulnerable among us is to avoid becoming exposed to the virus. Millions of Americans in towns large and small are heeding this advice to prevent the spread of this pandemic — we are staying home.

From the beginning, President Trump has demonstrated that he has no higher priority than the health and safety of the American public, which the US Department of Housing and Urban Development proudly serves. That is why, at the president’s direction, HUD suspended foreclosures and evictions for all 8.5 million single-family homeowners with mortgages and reverse mortgages insured under the Federal Housing Administration for 60 days, until mid-May.

HUD also immediately suspended in-person inspections for multifamily properties, hospitals and nursing-home facilities, except in the case of an emergency.

This decisive action is rooted in the president’s whole-of-government approach to combat this invisible enemy and its impact on the financial well-being of individuals, families and businesses.

No Americans should fear losing their homes because of the coronavirus. The department has also acted quickly to create more flexibility for financial-reporting requirements. HUD has extended reporting deadlines for health-care, multifamily and single-family stakeholders to the end of April. These actions reinforce safety for everyone, as we continue to respond to the rapidly changing obstacles in our path forward.

We are fighting for the protection of all the 3.2 million families assisted by public-housing authorities. The department has been in contact with every public-housing authority in the nation and encouraged them to use every flexibility at their disposal to ensure anyone experiencing difficulty making a payment isn’t evicted.

Many of the nation’s largest PHAs have heeded our call and suspended evictions.

For all Americans who receive housing-choice vouchers, the department is working to ensure PHAs have the funds to pay landlords. But I urge every American who is under ­financial distress because of the coronavirus to contact the entity you pay monthly housing payments to or the servicer who granted you a loan or mortgage.

The Trump administration is extremely concerned about our homeless Americans. People ­experiencing homelessness have a higher risk of exposure to diseases. The nonprofit organizations and local-government representatives who care for our homeless daily are keenly aware of dangers facing our most vulnerable citizens during infectious disease outbreaks.

HUD has been in constant communication with homeless-service providers throughout the nation and has released toolkits and guidance to help bolster their response plans. These resources are available at www.HUD.gov/coronavirus.

Further, HUD has given grantees who receive funds under the Community Development Block Grant program, commonly used to recover from natural disasters, flexibility in submitting required documentation, in meeting expenditure deadlines and in altering their grant plans to use these funds to respond to COVID-19.

This opens up resources for ­localities to stand up testing sites, treatment centers and shelters for some of our most vulnerable citizens. Grantees should coordinate with local health authorities before undertaking any activity to support state or local pandemic responses. Our department stands ready to support all affected jurisdictions as we fight this disease.

Americans are at war with an invisible menace, and housing providers and shelters will continue to play an increasingly important role. The department immediately reached out to front-line housing providers and stakeholders and will continue to partner with these groups. HUD is committed to taking every necessary action to defeat this disease.

We are in the midst of an ­unprecedented crisis, but America is built on endurance through hardship — and there is no match for the will and courage of our people. With God’s providence and a renewed spirit of determination and innovation, We the People will get through this together. United we fight, united we stand and united we will ­always prevail.

Dr. Ben Carson is the secretary of Housing and Urban Development and a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

Filed under 3/31/20