WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) along with U.S. Representatives Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) and Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.) announced that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has granted public housing authorities across the state more than $5.5 million for Community Development Block Grants to increase access to affordable housing in New Mexico as the state responds to the COVID-19 pandemic. The grants are part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that the New Mexico delegation voted to pass at the end of March.
The second wave of $5,514,911 in CARES Act funding follows the over $16.7 million in HUD grants to public housing across the state, and over $1.6 million in administrative funds to assist New Mexico public housing authorities with distributing tenant-based rental assistance. The funds will help New Mexico keep more people in their homes during a time of significant economic disruption and public health crisis.
“The health and safety of all New Mexicans is my top priority in Congress—and safe and well-built housing is an essential part of New Mexico’s public health effort to save lives during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially when we are asking people to stay at home to reduce the spread of this virus,” said Udall, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “I fought to include strong provisions to protect working families and vulnerable communities in Congress’s response to this unprecedented public health crisis. I am continuing to work hard to make sure that Congress’s next response to the COVID-19 pandemic puts working families front and center to build the foundation for an inclusive recovery.”
“During this unprecedented public health and economic crisis, the last thing New Mexico families should be worrying about is keeping a roof over their heads. I am proud to support this critical funding from the CARES Act that will help families all across New Mexico have access to affordable housing during these difficult months. Ensuring housing security right now is absolutely essential to protecting our health and safety because staying home is one of the most effective ways for us to stop the spread of the virus,” said Heinrich. “I will continue doing everything in my power to fight for the resources New Mexico needs for a strong public health response that is rooted in science and to build a broad economic recovery in all of our communities.”
“As New Mexicans stay home to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vital that we support affordable public housing as part of a comprehensive response to this public health crisis. To ensure the well-being of New Mexicans, we must make sure that families have safe and reliable places to live,” said Luján. “I will continue working with the delegation to expand affordable housing assistance in future relief packages and fight to ensure that New Mexico receives its fair share of federal funding.”
“New Mexicans should be able to focus on their health and wellbeing without the fear of losing safe and affordable housing, but families I talk with are struggling to make ends meet with limited hours and layoffs caused by this pandemic. I know what it’s like when you don’t know when the next paycheck is going to come. These housing assistance grants will provide rental assistance to ensure folks can keep a roof of their heads and landlords can pay the mortgage. My work to increase economic stability for our families, workers, and small businesses will continue as we look toward recovery from this public health emergency,” said Haaland.
“Thousands of New Mexicans are fighting to make ends meet as they continue to face reduced work hours, layoffs, and increased economic uncertainty. All the while, our state and local budgets are strained as governments work to respond to this crisis. I am proud to have fought for funding for public housing authorities in the CARES Act to help our local governments provide the affordable housing and stability New Mexicans need during this public health emergency,” said Torres Small.
COVID-19 Recovery- Community Development Block Grant (CDBG): Nationally, the CARES Act provided $5 billion for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program to enable states, counties, and cities to rapidly respond to COVID-19 and the economic and housing impacts caused by the pandemic. The funds provide resources for expanding community health facilities, child care centers, food banks, and senior services. In order to ensure resources are quickly deployed and meet the unique response needs to COVID-19, the bill eliminates the cap on the amount of funds a grantee can spend on public services, removes the requirement to hold in-person public hearings in order to comply with national and local social gathering requirements, and allows grantees to be reimbursed for COVID-19 response activities regardless of the date the costs were incurred.