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House’s HEROES Act Would Help Financially Vulnerable Families

Wednesday, May 13, 2020
Ashley Harrington

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), yesterday released the HEROES Act (H.R. 6800), the latest legislative response to the unprecedented COVID-19 public health and economic crisis.

Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) Federal Advocacy Director and Senior Counsel Ashley Harrington issued the following statement:

The HEROES Act would help prevent families from losing their homes and stop an avalanche of debt that threatens to bury them.

The HEROES Act would help protect the communities and families that have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects from economic devastation through a range of smart policies. For instance, the legislation extends and expands the moratorium on foreclosures to cover all homeowners, including those with privately backed mortgages, and it facilitates affordable forbearance and mortgage repayment options. The bill provides significant support for renters to ensure that families can remain in place. It also extends student loan payment suspension and interest waivers to all federal borrowers while providing further relief in the form of student debt cancellation. Further, the bill begins to open up the Paycheck Protection Program to more small businesses and non-profits, including those owned by people of color who were largely shut out of this massive assistance program.

At the same time, the legislation falls short in some areas. More relief is needed for small businesses, especially businesses of color, including grant aid to sustain them through this crisis and enable them to support their communities when the economy reopens. The bill also misses an opportunity to provide consumers relief from unreasonable overdraft fees and to cap interest rates on consumer loans.

The HEROES Act is a major step forward in ensuring everyone is being included in the relief effort. The Senate should take up this legislation with the urgency this crisis merits.

Additional Background
Among its many provisions, the HEROES Act (H.R. 6800) has measures to:

  • Extend unemployment insurance, expand food assistance, and provide additional relief checks;
  • Remove restrictions on assistance to immigrant families and to returning citizens who served their time in the criminal justice system;
  • Prohibit debt collection for 120 days;
  • Suspend negative credit reporting;
  • Improve the Paycheck Protection Program by reserving funds for Community Development Financial Institutions and Minority Depository Institutions, requiring demographic data collection and greater transparency, allocating funds specifically to businesses with ten employees or fewer, and extending the covered period so more businesses can access the loans and forgiveness;
  • Extend student loan relief to all federal borrowers;
  • Provide further relief in the form of cancellation for both federal and private student loan borrowers.
  • Provide relief to students who were defrauded by their colleges and have been to this date denied full relief by the Department of Education;
  • Extend and expand the moratorium on foreclosures and evictions to cover all homeowners and renters (including people living in properties with privately backed mortgages); and,
  • Facilitate affordable mortgage forbearance options for homeowners.

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Press Contact: matthew.kravitz@responsiblelending.org