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Housing Finance Strategies Can Enable Many More Americans to Shelter in Place For Much Longer

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By William Earle Klay
April 12, 2020


Medical experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), are recommending that as many people as possible shelter in place for as long as possible. They especially indicate that the coming 8 weeks or so are the most critical.

The greatest barrier to doing that for a great many Americans is the cost of their housing. They must go out to earn money to pay rents and mortgages. Much of their stimulus money will go for housing rather than food and medicines. It is time for the housing and finance industries to step up and shoulder some of the burden of this crisis to ease the rapidly growing burdens of our increasingly stressed and overworked healthcare providers. The health of all of us depends on helping as many people as possible to stay home now.

The key to doing this is for Congress and states to enact legislation to radically reduce the costs of housing, temporarily.

DEFER MONTLHY MORTAGE PAYMENTS AND RELATED LOANS

Congress and states should enact legislation to defer home mortgage payments for up to three months. The life span of the mortgages would be extended for up to three months. For example, a home mortgage that is due to expire in December 2030 would, instead, expire at the end of March 2031.

DECLARE A THREE MONTHS RENTERS’ HOLIDAY

Congress and states should enact legislation to give renters a three-month holiday from paying rent. To prevent possible bankruptcies for landlords who have to pay monthly installments on their own loans, the loans that housing providers must pay monthly can also be deferred in the same manner as the deferrals of home mortgages. Stimulus monies should be targeted to help property owners cover some of their other expenses. The poorest of our fellow citizens have little to no savings. They cannot afford to own their own homes and must rent. They need the stimulus money for food and medicines. This will do much to save their lives and the lives of other Americans as well.

We public administrators must do all we can to promote these and similar ideas to all national, state, and local political leaders. Doing that will help to reinforce the importance of what we do as we help our fellow Americans to cope with an unprecedented challenge.


Author: William Earle Klay, PhD, Professor emeritus Askew School of Public Administration & Policy, The Florida State University. E-mail: [email protected]

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