This page will be updated as more information becomes available
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have extended the eviction moratorium for renters until June 30, 2021. Click here to learn more about the eviction moratorium.
On February 16, 2021, the White House announced that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and Department of Agriculture (USDA) are implementing a coordinated extension and expansion of forbearance and foreclosure relief programs which would:
- Extend the foreclosure moratorium for homeowners through June 30, 2021;
- Extend the mortgage payment forbearance enrollment window until June 30, 2021 for borrowers who wish to request forbearance;
- Provide up to six months of additional mortgage payment forbearance, in three-month increments, for borrowers who entered forbearance on or before June 30, 2020.
Homeowners and renters can also visit consumerfinance.gov/housing for up-to-date information on their relief options, protections, and key deadlines.
Congress has passed several rounds of financial assistance and relief in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including most recently the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which was signed into law on March 11, 2021.
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 contains billions in funding to help ensure that families and individuals have a roof over their heads, including:
- Emergency rental assistance. The legislation provides more than $21.5 billion in emergency rental assistance, to be administered by Treasury, to help millions of families keep up on their rent and remain in their homes.
- Homeowner Assistance Fund. The legislation provides nearly $10 billion, to be administered by Treasury, to help homeowners behind on their mortgage and utility payments and avoid foreclosure and eviction.
- Emergency housing vouchers. The legislation provides $5 billion for emergency housing vouchers for individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness.
- Homelessness assistance and supportive services program. The legislation provides $5 billion for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program to help create housing and services for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
- Housing assistance and supportive services programs for Native Americans. The legislation provides $750 million for assistance for Native Americans and Native Hawaiians, helping reduce housing-related health risks during the pandemic.
- Emergency assistance for rural housing. The legislation provides $100 million, to be administered by USDA, to help people in rural communities keep their homes during the pandemic.
- Funds for housing counseling. The legislation provides $100 million, to be administered by NeighborWorks, for grants to housing counseling providers to provide services to households facing housing instability.
- Relief measures for section 502 and 504 direct loan borrowers. The legislation provides $39 million, to be administered by USDA, for USDA Section 502 and 504 home loans, which help low- and very-low income borrowers purchase, repair, and rehabilitate housing in rural areas, while helping existing borrowers who are struggling to afford housing.
- Funds for fair housing activities. The legislation provides $20 million for the Fair Housing Initiatives Program to investigate fair housing complaints, strengthen enforcement, and assist those who believe they have been victims of housing discrimination.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
- To find and connect with your local public housing agency (administering public housing and Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers in Wisconsin), click here
- To find and connect with a HUD-approved housing counselor, click here
- HUD is also providing COVID-19 guidance to public housing agencies, homelessness organizations, CDBG grantees, and other HUD-assisted housing providers on its website at: https://www.hud.gov/coronavirus
- Additional information can be found at: https://www.hud.gov/states/wisconsin/renting
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
- USDA is providing COVID-19 guidance to assisted households, grantees, property owners, and single family and multifamily borrowers on its website at: https://www.rd.usda.gov/coronavirus
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
- CFPB offers a centralized website as a one-stop shop for both homeowners and renters to learn about programs and resources that can help them stay in their homes by reducing the risk of eviction and foreclosure. For up-to-date information on relief options, protections, and key deadlines, visit: https://www.consumerfinance.gov/coronavirus/mortgage-and-housing-assistance/
Legal Services in Wisconsin
- Legal Action of Wisconsin, Inc. (LAW)
- Legal Action provides free civil legal services to low-income Wisconsinites and senior citizens regarding housing. Visit https://www.legalaction.org/ or call 855-947-2529
- Wisconsin Judicare, Inc. (Judicare)
- Judicare provides legal services for cases involving housing to residents in certain counties. Visit http://www.judicare.org/
- To connect with your local community action agency and see what resources are available in your area, please visit: https://wiscap.org/member-agencies/
- For more information on how to apply for help paying your utility bills, please visit: http://www.homeenergyplus.wi.gov/ or call 1-866-HEATWIS (432-8947)
See below for more information from the U.S. Department of Treasury, the agency overseeing implementation of the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program.
Is there an extension of the eviction moratorium?
Yes. The CDC has extended the eviction moratorium for renters until June 30, 2021. More information is available here.
Which renters are eligible for Emergency Rental Assistance and how can they access help?
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provides $21.6 billion to states, local governments with populations over 200,000, and territories to provide emergency rental, utility, and other housing-related assistance and housing stability services to renters.
To be eligible for assistance, renters must:
- Have incomes below 80 percent of the area median income
- Qualify for unemployment insurance or have experienced financial hardship during or due, directly or indirectly, to COVID-19; and
- Have a risk of homelessness
These funds augment $25 billion in funding provided for Emergency Rental Assistance in the December 2020 Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY 2021, but provide grantees with some additional flexibility to better stabilize renters. Many states, local governments, and territories have already opened or are about to open emergency rental assistance programs with funds provided in December. Many tribes are also operating Emergency Rental Assistance programs through funding provided in December or Housing Assistance and Supportive Services for Native Americans funding included in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
More information about the ERA program, including a listing of local governments eligible to participate, is available on the U.S. Department of Treasury’s website at: https://home.treasury.gov/policy- issues/cares/emergency-rental-assistance-program
More information about Grantee Award Terms for Emergency Rental Assistance is available here (Updated 03.26.2021).
The National Council of State Housing Agencies provides links to many of the state-wide ERA programs through a map on its website at: https://www.ncsha.org/emergency-housing-assistance/
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provides $5 billion in new Emergency Housing Vouchers. Who will be eligible for these vouchers and how will they be distributed?
The bill provides new, targeted housing vouchers for individuals and households experiencing or at risk of homelessness and survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking. These emergency vouchers will operate much like Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers administered by local public housing agencies (PHAs), but will sunset once no longer needed by the households to whom they have been awarded. The Department of Housing and Urban Development must notify PHAs of their allocations of emergency housing vouchers within 60 days of enactment.
Are there resources for homeowners who need individualized advice or legal help?
There are numerous state, local, and non-profit housing counseling agencies that give free advice and assistance to homeowners and those facing foreclosure. To contact one of these agencies, homeowners can contact a HUD-approved housing counselor. If you are in need of legal assistance, you may wish to contact a legal aid attorney.
You may also want to visit consumerfinance.gov/housing for up-to-date information on your relief options, protections, and key deadlines.
What if borrowers are having trouble paying their property taxes?
Many homeowners have an escrow account from which their servicer pays their property taxes and required insurance payments. When borrowers have an escrow account, even if they are in forbearance, property taxes and insurance will be forwarded on their behalf. But some homeowners with a mortgage, as well as homeowners who no longer have a mortgage on their property, may pay property taxes directly to their locality. If homeowners fall behind on these property taxes, they can face fees and ultimately tax foreclosure.
If a homeowner is unable to make their property tax payments as scheduled, they should contact their local government immediately to discuss a payment plan. If they have trouble reaching a repayment plan agreement, homeowners can also contact a HUD-approved housing counselor or legal aid attorney.
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provides funds to help homeowners. What homeowners are eligible and how will those funds be distributed?
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provides $9.961 billion for a Homeowner Assistance Fund at the Treasury Department, which will provide funds to states, Tribes, and territories to provide direct assistance to homeowners. The law makes assistance available for homeowners who are experiencing a financial hardship associated with the coronavirus pandemic and whose mortgage (if they have a mortgage) is below the conforming loan limit for the area, which is set annually by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and is currently between $548,250 and $822,375 for a one-family home. Homeowners are not required to have a mortgage to receive assistance, and funds can be used to provide mortgage payment assistance, help reinstate a mortgage, facilitate interest rate reductions, provide utility or broadband internet assistance, cover housing-related insurance costs, among other purposes which may be determined in the future. We expect Treasury will put out guidance to further clarify eligible uses of funds, as well as more technical guidance on how funding recipients can determine whether a household is eligible for assistance.
When will Homeowner Assistance Fund money be available?
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 requires the Treasury Department to determine how much in funding each state, Tribe, and territory will get and to begin making payments to those states, Tribes, and territories that tell Treasury they want to administer the funds within 45 days after the bill is enacted, which will be before the end of April 2021. The minimum allocation to each state is $50 million, and funds to Tribes are distributed based on the FY 2020 Indian Housing Block Grant formula. Note that a state, Tribe, or territory will be required to tell Treasury that they wish to receive the funds in order to receive them. Treasury has not yet put out guidance on how states, Tribes, and territories will need to request the funds.
Additional Information and Resources
For general information and resources about coronavirus for Wisconsinites, please click here.
For more information about the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, please click here.
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