SAVE OUR HOMES ACT AND OTHER SOTO PROPOSALS INCLUDED IN HEROES ACT
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Yesterday, House Democrats introduced The Heroes Act, a bold and comprehensive coronavirus response bill that includes the Save Our Homes Act and other ideas proposed in legislation and letters led by Congressman Darren Soto (FL-09).
The more than $3 trillion legislation protects the lives and livelihoods of Central Floridians. Among its many provisions, the bill includes the following wins proposed by Congressman Soto on behalf of Florida’s Ninth Congressional District:
- Save Our Homes: Includes language taken from the Save Our Homes Act would improve the forbearance provided under the CARES Act by ending balloon payments, prohibiting the accrual of additional interest or fees under forbearance, and allowing struggling homeowners to simply start making their mortgage payments again, with missed payments made at the end of the loan with an extended term. Pages 972-975.
- Protect First Responders: Provides nearly $1 trillion to state, local, territorial and tribal governments who desperately need funds to pay vital workers like first responders, health workers and teachers in danger of losing their jobs, as requested by Congressman Soto in a letter. Page 906.
- Hazard Pay for Essential Workers: Establishes a Heroes’ Fund for essential workers, with $200 billion to ensure that essential workers who have risked their lives working during the pandemic receive hazard pay, as requested by Congressman Soto in a letter.
- Distance Learning: Provides $1.5 billion to close the homework gap by providing funding for Wi-Fi hotspots and connected devices for students and library patrons and $4 billion for emergency home connectivity needs, as requested by Congressman Soto in a letter. Pages 1177-1185.
- Home Energy and Water Service Continuity: Requires states and utilities receiving federal emergency funds to adopt or maintain in force policies to prevent shutoffs and ensure safety and continuity of home energy and water services to residential customers during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Congressman Soto requested this in a letter.
- Water Service Continuity: Adds additional requirements to protect water services to residential customers during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Ensures all occupied residences are connected to water services throughout the emergency’s duration, and that any reconnections are conducted in a manner that minimizes health risks. It also prohibits providers from assessing late fees for nonpayment during the emergency period. Congressman Soto requested this in a letter.
Other provisions in the bill include:
- Testing, Tracing and Treatment: Provides another $75 billion for coronavirus testing, contact tracing and isolation measures, ensuring every American can access free coronavirus treatment, and supporting hospitals and providers
- Stimulus Payments: Provides a second round of more substantial economic impact payments of $1,200 per family member, up to $6,000 per household.
- Protects Payrolls: Enhances the new employee retention tax credit that encourages employers to keep employees on payroll, allowing 60 million Americans to remain connected to their paychecks and benefits
- Worker Safety: Requires OSHA to issue a strong, enforceable standard within seven days to require all workplaces to develop and implement infection control plans based on CDC expertise, and prevents employers from retaliating against workers who report infection control problems.
- Support to Small Businesses and Nonprofits: Strengthens the Payroll Protection Program to ensure that it reaches underserved communities, nonprofits of all sizes and types and responds flexibly to small businesses by providing $10 billion for Covid-19 emergency grants through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.
- Health Coverage: Protects Americans from losing their employer-provided health insurance with COBRA subsidies to maintain their coverage and creating a special enrollment period in the ACA exchanges for uninsured Americans.
- Unemployment Benefits: Ensures weekly $600 federal unemployment payments through next January, providing a vital safety net for the record number of Americans who are unemployed.
- Housing Assistance: Helps struggling families afford a safe place to live with $175 billion in new supports to assist renters and homeowners make monthly rent, mortgage and utility payments and other housing-related costs.
- Food Security: Addresses rising hunger with a 15 percent increase to the maximum SNAP benefit and additional funding for nutrition programs that help families put food on the table.
- Safeguards Democracy: Includes new resources to ensure safe elections, an accurate Census, and preserve the Postal Service.
- Low-Income Household Drinking Water and Wastewater Assistance: Provides financial assistance to low income and other adversely affected consumers to assist with payments for drinking water and wastewater expenses by authorizing $1.5 billion for grants to states, territories, and Indian Tribes.
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): Authorizes $1.5 billion to expand energy assistance for low-income families, reduces barriers to LIHEAP participation during the COVID-19 emergency, and temporarily increases LIHEAP agencies’ administrative resources to process the higher volume of applications remotely.
- Grants for Environmental Justice Communities Disproportionately Affected by COVID-19: Provides $50 million for the EPA for environmental justice grants, including investigating links between pollution exposure and the transmission and health outcomes of coronavirus in environmental justice communities.
The legislation follows the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act enacted on April 24; the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, enacted on March 27; the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, enacted on March 18; and the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act enacted on March 6.