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Biden backs rent, mortgage forgiveness during coronavirus pandemic

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, on Wednesday backed rent and mortgage forgiveness for those struggling to get by during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a Wednesday interview on the Snapchat show “Good Luck America,” Biden called for the federal government to help keep jobless Americans in their homes and apartments amid the deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression.

“There should be rent forgiveness and there should be mortgage forgiveness now in the middle of this crisis,” Biden said when asked if he supported a “federal rent bailout.”

“Forgiveness. Not paid later, forgiveness. It’s critically important to people who are in the lower-income strata,” he continued.

Biden has previously voiced support for delaying mortgage payments, banning evictions and foreclosures, and freezing rent for those who’ve lost their jobs during the pandemic. A Biden campaign spokesman declined to comment on the candidate’s remarks, simply noting his past support for rental and mortgage relief.

But Biden’s Wednesday embrace of mortgage and rent forgiveness “not paid later” appears to be a significant step further that aligns a Democrat widely seen as moderate with the party’s left flank.

A group of House progressives including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and the leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus have rallied behind a bill from Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) to cancel all rent and mortgage payments from March 2020 through the end of the pandemic.

The measure would set up federal relief funds for landlords and lenders to recoup the cost of lost mortgage and rent payments if they agree to abide by a set renter protections for five years. 

The proposal from Omar and her progressive colleagues goes well beyond the measures approved and proposed by Democratic House leadership so far. 

The bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed by President Trump in March allowed any U.S. owner with a federally-backed mortgage to seek 180 days of mortgage forbearance, delaying but not canceling payments owed. The Trump administration also imposed a foreclosure and eviction ban across federally-backed mortgage and public housing, while states and mayors across the U.S have approved similar measures.

House Democrats also proposed $175 billion in direct aid and grants to local governments meant to help renters and homeowners cover their rents, mortgages and utilities bills in a sprawling $3 trillion rescue plan released Wednesday. 

Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Donald Trump Ilhan Omar Joe Biden

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