The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently extended the eviction moratorium to affected multifamily housing residents through June 30, 2021. This halt in residential evictions allows the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to extend relief to the hundreds-of-thousands of Americans who rely on USDA-supported multifamily housing communities.

“Due to COVID-19, the United States is facing a nationwide housing affordability crisis. That’s why, in a whole-of-government effort, USDA is taking this important action today to extend rental relief to the tens-of-thousands of individuals in USDA-supported multifamily housing communities,” said USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Justin Maxson said March 30. “Currently, more than 40,000 tenants are rent overburdened, paying more than 30 percent of their income on rent. Today’s actions will give tenants at USDA-financed properties essential relief while the Department works as quickly as possible to extend the $100 million for emergency rental assistance provided by the American Rescue Plan Act to USDA’s most rent overburdened tenants.”

In a recent Census Bureau survey, nine million renters (or an estimated 15 percent of all renters) reported being behind on rent. The same survey showed that about 29 percent of Black families and 17 percent of Hispanic renters were behind on rent.

USDA’s Multi-Family Housing Programs provide affordable multi-family rental housing in rural areas by financing projects geared for low-income, elderly and disabled individuals and families, as well as domestic farm workers. USDA extends its reach by guaranteeing loans for affordable rental housing designed for low- to moderate-income residents in rural areas and towns. USDA also provides grants to sponsoring organizations to repair or rehabilitate housing for eligible families and subsidizes rents for low-income tenants who cannot afford to pay their full rent.

COVID-19 has had a lasting impact on rural America. Families have lost their homes, students have resorted to unconventional solutions to access schoolwork online, the need for food assistance has grown, and access to COVID-19 testing and vaccinations have been limited.

The American Rescue Plan implements funding that invests in the people of rural America:

• $100 million through September 2022 in rental assistance for low-income and elderly borrowers.

• $39 million through September 2023 to help refinance direct loans under the Single-Family Housing Loan Program and the Single-Family Housing Repair Loans & Grants.

• $500 million in Community Facility Program funds to help rural hospitals and local communities broaden access to COVID-19 vaccines & food assistance.

In addition to programs facilitated by USDA, the American Rescue Plan provides significant investments into rural communities by expanding internet connectivity and establishing a homeowner assistance fund to assist struggling homeowners with mortgage payments, property taxes, property insurance, utilities and other housing related costs.

Under the Biden-Harris Administration, Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, Tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.