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Former HUD Secretary: Congress 'should invest $100B in direct rental assistance'

Former HUD Secretary: Congress 'should invest $100B in direct rental assistance'
© Greg Nash

Former Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro said that Congress should pass direct rental assistance to avoid a housing crisis amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The CARES Act, signed in late March, included a moratorium on evictions for tenants in units with federally-backed mortgages or other assistance who were unable to pay rent, which only applies to about a fifth of renters. The rest are subject to local eviction moratoria, which have begun to expire. 

Castro, who served under President Obama, told NBC News that Congress should allocate $100 billion in direct housing assistance.

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“We should invest $100 billion in direct rental assistance that the HEROES Act would include, as well as Emergency Solutions Grants, which address homelessness in local communities across the country,” Castro said. 

Last month the House passed the $3 trillion HEROES Act, which would extend unemployment benefits and evictions moratorium. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has vowed not to move the legislation. 

The former Democratic presidential candidate said that the mass evictions the country is potentially facing “would be unprecedented in scope” and the socioeconomic ramifications would be long lasting.

“If you want to avert a disaster in this country, where millions of people are out sleeping on the streets, then you better pass the HEROES Act, and you need to make sure those eviction moratoriums are in place,” Castro said.