COVID-19 Emergency Information for Housing Counselors

This page is a summary of key resources for HUD-approved housing counseling agencies.

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NewCARES Act & Other COVID-19 Response Funding Chart

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and various FY 2021 Federal appropriations legislation have been geared toward addressing the COVID-19 health and economic emergency. Understanding the funding that may be available for housing assistance enables housing counselors to identify state/local programs and determine grantees to contact.

Federal Agency

Program and Allocation

Description of Funding

Applicable Eligible Activities

Housing Counseling Related Uses

Contact

Treasury

Treasury Seal

Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF)
$150 billion

Treasury disburses payments to states and eligible units of local government, D.C. and U.S. Territories, and Tribal governments to cover necessary expenses incurred due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Each unit of government is responsible for making determinations regarding which expenses are necessary due to the public health emergency.

Eligible expenses may include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Public health expenses
  • Payroll expenses for public safety, public health, health care, human services, and similar employees
  • Expenses to facilitate compliance with COVID-19-related public health measures
  • Expenses associated with the provision of economic support

Uses specific to housing counseling include:

  • Payment of overdue rent or mortgage payments related to the public health emergency
  • Eviction prevention related to the public health emergency
  • Utility fees to maintain essential services, related to the public health emergency

View CRF allocations
(search by state, county, and/or city/metro)

Emergency Rental Assistance Program
$25 billion

Passed on December 21, 2020 the Emergency Rental Assistance program makes available $25 billion to assist households that are unable to pay rent and utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds are provided directly to States, U.S. Territories, local governments, and Indian tribes. Grantees use the funds to provide assistance to eligible households through existing or newly created rental assistance programs.

Eligible expenses include:

  • At least 90% of the funds must be used to provide financial assistance, including back and forward rent and utility payments incurred due to the pandemic. Assistance can be provided for 12 months. States and localities can provide an additional 3 months of assistance if necessary, to ensure housing stability for a household.
  • When providing forward rent, assistance can only be given for 3 months, though households can subsequently reapply for additional assistance.
  • Recipients can use up to 10% of funds to provide case management and other services related to the pandemic.

Uses specific to housing counseling include:

  • Payment of back and forward rent, utility payments, and other housing expenses incurred due to the pandemic
  • Case management and other services related to the pandemic to help keep households stably housed

The Treasury Department has issued its methodology for allocations and eligible units of local government.

HUD

HUD Seal

View CPD Program Formula Allocations and CARES Act Supplemental Funding for FY 2020 to explore how grantees are implementing the program funds.

Community Development Block Grant – CARES Act (CDBG-CV)
$5 billion

Congress provided $5 billion in the CARES Act for CDBG programs to states, metropolitan cities, urban counties, and insular areas. Jurisdictions have a lot of flexibility in how they use their block granted funding, so eligible activities may vary among grantees.

To be eligible for CDBG-CV all funded activities must be carried out to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.

Eligible CDBG Entitlement and CDBG State activities include:

  • Public service activities
  • Housing-related activities
  • Public improvements and facilities
  • Activities to acquire real property
  • Economic development activities
  • General administrative and planning activities

Activities must benefit residents within the jurisdiction of the grantee or as permitted by the CARES Act.

Uses specific to housing counseling include:

  • Emergency rent or mortgage assistance and utility payments for up to six consecutive months.
  • Housing counseling is an eligible activity.

Find a grantee by HUD program
(search by state and/or HUD program)

Emergency Solutions Grant – CARES Act (ESG-CV)
$3.96 billion

ESG recipients typically consult with their local Continuums of Care to determine how to use ESG-CV funds in their communities for homeless prevention. Jurisdictions have a lot of flexibility in how they use their block granted funding, so eligible activities may vary among grantees.

To be eligible for ESG-CV, all funded activities must be carried out to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.

The ESG program provides funding to:

  • Engage homeless individuals and families living on the street
  • Improve the number and quality of emergency shelters for homeless individuals and families
  • Help operate these shelters
  • Provide essential services to shelter residents
  • Rapidly re-house homeless individuals and families
  • Prevent families and individuals from becoming homeless

Funds can be used for eligible activities such as emergency rental assistance. ESG-CV funding cannot be used for emergency rental payments until after the CDC eviction moratorium expires.

Uses specific to housing counseling include:

  • Funds may be used to pay for incentivizing landlords to rent to individuals or families experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness, including up to three times the rent charged for the unit, signing bonuses, security deposits, repairing damages, and costs of extra cleaning or maintenance.
  • Funds can be used for emergency rental assistance.
  • Housing counseling is an eligible activity.

Find a grantee by HUD program
(search by state and/or HUD program)

Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS – CARES Act (HOPWA-CV)
$65 million

HUD grants funds to local communities, States, and nonprofit organizations for projects that benefit low-income persons living with HIV/AIDS and their families.

HOPWA grantees offer eligible activities to HOPWA eligible households in need of housing services related to COVID-19.

Uses specific to housing counseling include:

  • Permanent housing placement
  • Housing counseling is an eligible activity
  • Emergency rental assistance

Find a grantee by HUD program
(search by state and/or HUD program)

Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP)
$1 million
Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP)
$1.5 million

Supplemental COVID-19 FHIP and FHAP funds were awarded to help organizations address potential fair housing issues related to COVID-19 and create and disseminate fair housing education and outreach materials as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

FHIP eligible activities developing and distributing educational material and conducting educational activities that inform people of their rights and responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act.

FHAP eligible activities include partnering with community organizations to conduct COVID-19 related education and outreach to people of different backgrounds, contracting with qualified organizations to conduct fair housing testing, and establishing hotlines or websites for fair housing issues. Read the FHAP CARES Act press releases from September 2020 and June 2020.

Housing counselors can search for FHIP and FHAP organizations to learn how funding is being applied in their community.

Find FHIP organizations and FHAP agencies
(search by state)

Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG) and Indian Community Development Block Grant (ICDBG)
$300 million

The IHBG program allocates formula funding to Tribes or Tribally designated housing entities (TDHEs) for the delivery of a range of affordable housing opportunities and housing-related activities to low- and moderate-income members of Federally recognized Indian tribes, Alaska Native villages, and native Hawaiians.

The ICDBG Program provides eligible grantees with direct grants for use in developing viable Indian and Alaska Native Communities, including decent housing, a suitable living environment, and economic opportunities, primarily for low- and moderate-income persons.

Eligible activities could include:

  • Housing activities
  • Public facilities and infrastructure
  • Public services

Uses specific to housing counseling include:

  • Up to six months of emergency rental assistance and utility assistance (including internet access to allow children to engage in distance learning)
  • Up to 3 months of mortgage assistance
  • Housing counseling is an eligible activity

Find tribes and TDHES
(search by region)

Health and Human Services (HHS)

HHS Seal

Community Services Block Grant (CSBG)
$1 billion

CSGB funds are a block grant to states, 90 percent of which goes to local designated Community Action Agencies who in turn provide a broad array of programs and services to help low-income communities and individuals/families with incomes at or below 125 percent of the Federal poverty threshold address the causes and conditions of poverty. Jurisdictions have a lot of flexibility in how they use their block granted funding, so eligible activities may vary among grantees.

Eligible activities include helping clients obtain and maintain adequate housing and emergency assistance to address and prevent economic instability.

Uses specific to housing counseling include:

  • Housing counseling is an eligible activity

Find your State Official and Program Coordinator
(search by state)

Find a Community Action Agency
(search by name, zip code, state, or county)

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

FEMA Seal

Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP)
$200 million

This needs-based program administered by FEMA provides shelter, food, and supportive services to individuals, families, and households who are experiencing or at risk of hunger and/or homelessness. The program is governed by a National Board that uses a formula to allocate funds to counties and cities with the highest need for food and shelter assistance. Local Boards award funds to local recipient organizations that provide program services.

View EFSP CARES Act Uses and Reporting.

Local private or public organizations that receive EFSP funds may use these funds to provide the following services:

  • Food in the form of served meals or groceries.
  • 30-days of lodging in a mass shelter, a hotel or motel or another off-site shelter facility.
  • Transportation costs associated food or shelter.
  • Minor emergency repairs of small equipment essential to mass feeding or sheltering (up to $300 per item).
  • Emergency repairs to comply with building code citations and expenses to make facilities accessible for individuals with disabilities for mass care feeding or sheltering facilities (up to $2,500).
  • Supplies and small equipment essential to feed or shelter people (up to $300 per item).

Uses specific to housing counseling include:

  • One month rent or mortgage assistance to assist people leaving shelters to establish stable living conditions

Find your Local Board
(search by state and jurisdiction – county or city)

Learn more about state and local CARES Act allocations

Other options to search for state or local program grantees

NCSHA State HFA Emergency Housing Assistance Programs: Search by state Housing Finance Agency.

NLIHC COVID-19 Rental Assistance Database: Search by state, city, county, or locality.

Legal Help FAQ on Evictions and Renter Protections (includes financial assistance): Search by state, county, or city.

Download the chart.


Housing Counseling COVID-19 Resources

Select each category to view resources by topic area.

Resource Title Author and Date Published Description

Temporary Partial Waiver of Maximum Arrearage for Subsequent HECM Property Charge Repayment Plan

HUD | December 11, 2020

This temporary partial waiver of policy, originally introduced in ML 2015-11, builds on the previous HECM COVID-19 repayment waiver, dated April 14, 2020, that expired on October 30, 2020.

It gives mortgagees authority to offer HECM borrowers a repayment plan for unpaid property charges, regardless of the total outstanding arrearage, by waiving certain requirements outlined in ML 2015-11, and allowing them to repay property tax arrearages of any amount if they are unable to make two consecutive payments during the COVID-19 National Emergency. This temporary partial waiver is effective through February 21, 2021.

Extension to FY 2019 Comprehensive Housing Counseling Grant Performance Period

HUD | April 27, 2020

In response to the challenges housing counseling agencies are facing as a result of the COVID-19 National Emergency, HUD's Office of Housing Counseling (OHC) implemented an automatic extension of the performance period for all fiscal year (FY) 2019 Comprehensive Housing Counseling (CHC) grants to the maximum allowable timeframe. Agencies operating under the FY 2019 CHC grant requirements are not required to submit requests to obtain the extension. This extension supersedes all extensions for the FY 2019 grants previously approved by OHC. The new period of performance end date will be March 31, 2021.

Partial Waiver of 24 CFR § 214.300(a)(3) In-Person Service Housing Counseling Requirement

HUD | April 20, 2020

On April 20, 2020, Assistant Secretary for Housing and Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Commissioner Brian Montgomery signed a one year waiver stating that all agencies participating in HUD’s Housing Counseling Program may provide housing counseling in the office of the housing counseling agency, at an alternate location, or by telephone, as long as mutually acceptable to the housing counselor and client. This temporary waiver is in effect through April 21, 2021.

The following COVID-19 resources have been released by HUD and other federal agencies and cover consumer protection information, HUD guidance, and other options that may be helpful for housing counselors to understand and share with their clients.

Resource Title Author Description

COVID Help for Home Campaign

A coalition led by CFPB, Mortgage Bankers Association, American Bankers Association, Housing Policy Council, and NeighborWorks America

This campaign raises awareness to ensure customers who need payment relief due to COVID-19 know that programs are available and who to call. Housing Counselors can use this campaign for mortgage customers experiencing financial stress, especially 1) customers who are behind in their payments, but have not reached out for help and 2) customers who are in a forbearance plan but don’t fully understand their options when the payment relief ends.

COVID-19 Frauds and Scams: Guide for Housing Counselors

HUD

Due to the COVID-19 national emergency, as well as other disasters and emergencies, scams and frauds are surfacing that target individuals in vulnerable situations. This guide will assist housing counselors in helping their clients cautiously navigate suspicious circumstances.

FEMA COVID-19 Housing Resource Roadmap

FEMA

The purpose of the COVID-19 Housing Resource Roadmap is to assist state, local, tribal, and territorial leaders and stakeholders with navigating some of the challenges and resources associated with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This document describes how supplemental appropriated funds, in particular under the CARES Act and certain ongoing annually funded federal programs, can be used to implement potential solutions.

HUD.gov Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources

HUD

Find HUD and FHA resources and guidance related to COVID-19 for program participants across HUD programs, as well as homeowners and renters.

Federal Housing Administration (FHA)

FHA

View COVID-19 guidance from FHA, including:

HUD FHA Waiver Suspending Face-to-Face Meeting Requirements with Default Mortgage Borrowers

FHA

This partial waiver of 24 CFR §203.604 Servicing Responsibilities is to limit face-to-face contact due to public health concerns around the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Please note that this guidance is relevant to loan servicing and is not an Office of Housing Counseling (OHC) requirement.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) COVID-19: Halting Foreclosure through May 17, 2020

USDA

This announcement informs lenders of a foreclosure and eviction moratorium for all USDA Single-Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program (SFHGLP) loans for a period of 60 days, in connection with the Presidentially declared COVID-19 National Emergency.

HUD Statement on Fair Housing and COVID-19

HUD FHEO

This statement from HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) provides information to housing providers and the public at large about the federal fair housing laws that protect persons from discrimination.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB): Mortgage and Housing Assistance

CFPB

The CFPB, HUD, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) are working together to help homeowners and renters during the coronavirus pandemic. The new Mortgage and Housing Assistance website provides the latest information on how to get help with housing to share with your clients during the coronavirus emergency.

Fannie Mae Assistance Options for Homeowners Impacted by COVID-19

Fannie Mae

Fannie Mae shares information with those impacted by COVID-19 of available mortgage assistance and relief options.

Freddie Mac COVID-19 Response

Freddie Mac

Freddie Mac staff is working to ensure that its employees, customers, and borrowers are protected from the direct and indirect impacts of coronavirus (COVID-19). Read Freddie Mac's #HelpStartsHere Interactive Guide for Homeowners that provides information and resources on how mortgage servicers can help clients that have experienced job loss, reduced income, illness or other issues related to COVID-19 that impacts their ability to make their monthly mortgage payments; understanding forbearance and if it’s the right option; and avoiding scams such as “foreclosure rescue fraud.”

Federal Trade Commission (FTC): Coronavirus Resources

FTC

The FTC is protecting consumers, providing guidance to businesses, and protecting competition in the marketplace throughout the pandemic. Helpful resources include:

Pandemic Planning: Joint Statement from the Federal Reserve System, FDIC, and OCC on CRA Consideration for Activities in Response to COVID-19

Federal Reserve System, FDIC, and OCC

This joint statement from the Federal Reserve System, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) encourages financial institutions to work with customers and communities affected by COVID-19, particularly those that are low- and moderate-income. Financial institutions will receive Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) consideration for qualifying community development activities.

Small Business Administration (SBA): Coronavirus (COVID-19) Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources

SBA

The SBA is providing assistance to small businesses through a number of resources, including Coronavirus Funding Options:

  • Paycheck Protection Program - This loan program provides loan forgiveness for retaining employees by temporarily expanding the traditional SBA 7(a) loan program.
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loan - This loan advance will provide up to $10,000 of economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing temporary difficulties.
  • SBA Express Bridge Loan - Enables small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly.
  • SBA Debt Relief - The SBA is providing a financial reprieve to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S. Department of the Treasury: Assistance for Small Businesses

U.S. Treasury

The Paycheck Protection Program prioritizes millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $349 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses.

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) COVID-19 Information

OCC

The OCC is working cooperatively with all state and federal banking agencies and other organizations to regulated institutions and their customers in managing the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. Helpful resources include:

Faith and Opportunity Initiatives Office: CARES Act Programs for Faith-Based & Non-Profit Organizations

Faith and Opportunity Initiatives Office

This document from the Faith and Opportunity Initiatives Office highlights resources for faith-based and community organizations registered/recognized as 501(c)(3) non-profits from the CARES Act.

Resource Title Author Description

Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) Outreach Flyer: Housing Counseling Agencies COVID-19 Response

MSHDA

This marketing flyer highlights MSHDA’s housing counseling capabilities during COVID-19, including financial assessment and planning; assistance for homeowners, renters, and the homeless; and a list of all services provided. Other agencies may be interested in developing similar flyers summarizing their capabilities in order to conduct outreach during the COVID-19 national emergency.

VHDA: COVID-19 Emergency Funding Support Program

VHDA

Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) is committed to strengthening and sustaining Virginia’s housing services delivery network. In response to the COVID-19 national emergency, VHDA supports the efforts of six critical housing networks: HUD Housing Counseling, Virginia Habitat for Humanity Affiliates, Virginia Housing’s Housing Choice Voucher Network, Virginia Housing’s Accessibility Network, Virginia’s Public Housing and Redevelopment Authorities, and Virginia’s Non-Profit Housing Developers with a lending relationship with VHDA.

Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA): Meeting Clients Needs During COVID-19 - The Bridge: Quarter 3 2020

The Bridge

The Michigan State Housing Development Authority’s (MSHDA)’s mission is to provide quality affordable housing to support diverse, thriving communities where people have the foundation to reach their full potential. Educating Michigan families about the rental eviction moratorium has been and continues to be a huge priority during COVID-19. MSHDA offers holistic support to its network by holding weekly conference calls during the COVID-19 national emergency providing updates and featuring presentations from more experienced housing counseling staff to mentor newer counselors and connect agencies for support.

Rental Counseling During COVID-19: A Snapshot of New York City - The Bridge: Quarter 3 2020

The Bridge

As COVID-19 brings job losses and health concerns, housing counselors are stepping in to provide meaningful guidance to low- and moderate-income clients whose housing stability may be at risk. New York City was one of the first epicenters of COVID-19 in the United States, and two-thirds of its residents are renters. By counseling tenants on the protections and relief available during COVID-19, housing counselors can help tenants understand their options.

Mon Valley Initiative: Tips to Effectively Counsel Clients Through COVID-19 - The Bridge: Quarter 3 2020

The Bridge

Jonathan Weaver of Mon Valley Initiative (MVI) is providing housing counseling during COVID-19 to clients who are facing challenging situations – homeowners cannot make their mortgage payments, are unsure about forbearance, and trying to avoid foreclosure.

GreenPath Financial Wellness: Using Grant Funds to Expand Financial Counseling During COVID-19 - The Bridge: Quarter 3 2020

The Bridge

GreenPath Financial Wellness is a national nonprofit with a long-standing track record of providing trusted housing counseling that offers financial counseling and debt management services. GreenPath was awarded a $750,000 grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation to deliver timely counseling to meet the needs of renters and homeowners affected by the COVID-19 national emergency. Funds from Wells Fargo are available for immediate use serving those seeking assistance.

President Donald J. Trump Directs FEMA Support Under Emergency Declaration for COVID-19

On March 13, 2020, President Trump declared a nationwide emergency pursuant to Sec. 501(b) of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. 5121-5207 (the “Stafford Act”). This increases federal support to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in its role as the lead federal agency for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic response. As a result of the President’s decisive, unprecedented action, FEMA is directed to assist state, local, tribal, territorial governments and other eligible entities with the health and safety actions they take on behalf of the American public.

FEMA State Disaster Declarations

For a complete list of COVID-19 Disaster Declarations, visit the FEMA COVID-19 Disaster Declarations webpage.

Disaster Declaration Date
Wyoming (DR-4535) April 11, 2020
Idaho (DR-4534) April 9, 2020
Alaska (DR-4533) April 9, 2020
Vermont (DR-4532) April 8, 2020
Minnesota (DR-4531) April 7, 2020
Oklahoma (DR-4530) April 5, 2020
New Mexico (DR-4529) April 5, 2020
Mississippi (DR-4528) April 5, 2020
South Dakota (DR-4527) April 5, 2020
Delaware (DR-4526) April 5, 2020
Utah (DR-4525) April 4, 2020
Arizona (DR-4524) April 4, 2020
Nevada (DR-4523) April 4, 2020
Maine (DR-4522) April 4, 2020
Nebraska (DR-4521) April 4, 2020
Wisconsin (DR-4520) April 4, 2020
Arkansas (DR-4518) April 3, 2020
West Virginia (DR-4517) April 3, 2020
New Hampshire (DR-4516) April 3, 2020
Indiana (DR-4515) April 3, 2020
Tennessee (DR-4514) April 2, 2020
Virgin Islands (DR-4513) April 2, 2020
Virginia (DR-4512) April 2, 2020
Northern Mariana (DR-4511) April 1, 2020
Hawaii (DR-4510) April 1, 2020
North Dakota (DR-4509) April 1, 2020
Montana (DR-4508) March 31, 2020
Ohio (DR-4507) March 31, 2020
Pennsylvania (DR-4506) March 30, 2020
Rhode Island (DR-4505) March 30, 2020
Kansas (DR-4504) March 29, 2020
Alabama (DR-4503) March 29, 2020
District of Columbia (DC) (DR-4502) March 29, 2020
Georgia (DR-4501) March 29, 2020
Connecticut (DR-4500) March 28, 2020
Oregon (DR-4499) March 28, 2020
Colorado (DR-4498) March 28, 2020
Kentucky (DR-4497) March 28, 2020
Massachusetts (DR-4496) March 27, 2020
Guam (DR-4495) March 27, 2020
Michigan (DR-4494) March 27, 2020
Puerto Rico (DR-4493) March 27, 2020
South Carolina (DR-4492) March 27, 2020
Maryland (DR-4491) March 26, 2020
Missouri (DR-4490) March 26, 2020
Illinois (DR-4489) March 26, 2020
New Jersey (DR-4488) March 25, 2020
North Carolina (DR-4487) March 25, 2020
Florida (DR-4486) March 25, 2020
Texas (DR-4485) March 25, 2020
Louisiana (DR-4484) March 24, 2020
Iowa (DR-4483) March 23, 2020
California (DR-4482) March 22, 2020
Washington (DR-4481) March 22, 2020
New York (DR-4480) March 20, 2020
Resource Title Author and Date Published Description

COVID-19 FAQs for Housing Counselors

HUD | June 2020

These FAQs provide guidance for housing counselors on Housing Counseling Program guidance during COVID-19. Topics covered include remote counseling, temporary suspension of activities, eligible costs, and more.