The massive – but temporary – social safety net that Congress set up to financially support millions of Americans reeling from the coronavirus pandemic is unraveling.
Over the course of a year, Congress approved several legislative programs worth nearly $ 6 trillion, setting up historic relief programs to help those in need as the virus triggered an unprecedented shutdown of the country’s economy.
But many of the protections put in place last March, including the moratorium on evictions and watered-down unemployment benefits, are about to expire. Others, such as a freeze on student loans and improved food stamp benefits, are expected to follow in the coming weeks.
It seems unlikely that Congress or the White House will step in to expand programs, even if the highly transmissible delta variant surges.
Here’s what you need to know:
Moratorium on evictions, July 31:
The federal eviction ban issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is set to expire on July 31, putting millions of tenants at risk of being evicted from their homes. houses in the coming weeks.
The White House said Thursday the moratorium would no longer be extended, blaming a recent Supreme Court ruling that said the CDC overstepped its authority when it first imposed the eviction ban last September.
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“Given the recent spread of the delta variant, including among Americans both most likely to face evictions and lacking vaccinations, President Biden would have strongly supported a CDC decision to further extend this moratorium. on evictions to protect tenants at this time of heightened vulnerability, ”said White House press secretary Jen Psaki. “Unfortunately, the Supreme Court made it clear that this option was no longer available. “
More than 15 million people living in the United States are behind on their rent payments and could be evicted when the moratorium expires on Saturday, according to a new to study released Wednesday by the Aspen Institute and the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project.
Collectively, these households – the majority of which are low-income and suffered financially during the pandemic – owe an estimated rent of $ 21 billion, The figures published by the National Equity Atlas show.
“These tenants may face evictions, civil suits for unpaid rent and aggressive debt collection – crises that will continue to cause damage for years to come,” the study said.
Although some states, including California and New York, have their own moratoriums on evictions that last beyond July, about 40 states have no protection in place for tenants, according to Nolo.com, a legal website.
Moratorium on foreclosures, July 31:
A federal foreclosure ban will expire on July 31, while a similar program that granted a stay for people with mortgages guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ends on September 30.
In June, the White House extended the lockdown moratorium for a final month until July 31 and the forbearance window until September 30. An estimated 7.2 million U.S. households have taken advantage of the opt-out option in the past 16 months, the administration said.
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The Biden administration last week announced new plans to expand homeowner assistance with government backing mortgages, an effort to avoid a wave of foreclosures for Americans who fell behind on payments during the coronavirus pandemic.
Latest measures aim to allow homeowners who lost their income as a result of the pandemic to extend their government-guaranteed monthly mortgage with lower payments, White House says fact sheet.
The three government agencies that support mortgages – the Ministries of Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs and Agriculture – will offer homeowners about a 25% reduction in monthly principal and interest payments. The move is designed to align the options available to homeowners with government guaranteed mortgages with what is available to homeowners with Fannie and Freddie secured mortgages.
Additional unemployment benefits, September 6:
According to Andrew, three federal unemployment programs – which expand eligibility, increase payments and extend benefits for longer periods – are set to expire Sept. 6 in states that still participate, affecting an estimated 7.2 million Americans Unemployed. Stettner, senior fellow at the Century Foundation from left.
The additional payment of $ 300 per week that drastically increased unemployment benefits will end, as will the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program, which provides weekly benefits to people who are generally not eligible such as workers. self-employed and workers together, and emergency pandemic compensation. , which provides benefits to Americans who have used up their regular weeks of state benefits.
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Still, some Americans have already lost the benefits: 23 states prematurely ended the additional $ 300 payment, a move meant to help employers struggling to integrate new workers. (Louisiana will cut the $ 300 payment after this week; Maryland and Ohio have been ordered by state judges to restore the money).
President Biden and Democrats have rejected the idea that Americans choose to stay home and collect additional unemployment benefits – which are part of the $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed in March – rather than going back to work.
Still, Biden stressed that unemployment benefits would end in September as scheduled, despite the push from some in his party to make the extra money permanent.
“It’s going to expire in 90 days,” Biden said recently. “It makes sense. “
Student loan repayment freeze, September 30:
Federal student loan payments are expected to resume Oct. 1, after a 19-month hiatus that has benefited about 41 million Americans.
Like other pandemic relief programs, the freeze on student loan payments began in March 2020 and has been extended twice.
A coalition of 64 lawmakers called on Biden to take action before the September 30 deadline, when the loan forbearance period officially ends, and asked him to extend the hiatus until March 31, 2022, or until the economy returns to pre-crisis levels – as the case may be. longer.
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“More than 30 million Americans will have a bill due in about two months,” Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass said Tuesday. “The payment break runs out on student debt payments. The size of these payments is the size of their rent, car payment, groceries, child care. This is going to cause a lot of people to make difficult choices. “
Food Stamp Bonuses, September 30:
A 15% increase in food stamps – known as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program – ends September 30.
The increase, set out in the $ 900 billion relief bill that Congress passed in December and extended by Democrats in March, provides for an additional $ 28 per person each month, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. .
With the boost, one person could receive a maximum allowance of $ 234 each month, while a household of four could receive up to $ 782.