WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The federal government is scaling back its pandemic-era safety net after President Joe Biden this week signed a resolution that brought an end to the national emergency for COVID-19.
The programs were designed to keep food on the table, people out of the emergency room and families in their homes while the virus upset people’s lives and the economy. The U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development, for example, offered emergency rental assistance, which leaders said did its job.
“We’re very fortunate that many of our grantees took advantage of the emergency funds,” HUD Deputy Secretary Adrianne Todman said.
She said an emergency mortgage forbearance program worked so well that HUD is keeping and expanding it.
“In addition that, we have what we call our loss mitigation options and that will allow Americans with (Federal Housing Administration) home insurance to be able to restructure their mortgage,” Todman said.
Housing expert Ted Tozer, formerly the president of Ginnie Mae, said the tweaks are good news for Americans in a financial bind.
“The person who just gets laid off for their job for a month or two or a person who has a sickness in their family,” he explained.
The Biden administration said the end of the national emergency, which came weeks earlier than expected, will not hinder HUD’s ability to prepare for changes.
“Our president made it clear to us weeks ago the direction in which he was heading,” Todman said.
With the emergency over, Medicaid recipients around the country are being asked to reapply to make sure they still qualify.
“We have been preparing for approximately 12 months,” said Jennifer Harris of Alabama Arise, a health care advocacy group.
Despite the group’s best efforts, she fears some will still slip through the cracks.
“There are a lot of people that need to be seen by providers that just won’t have the ability to pay,” she said. “For people on the margins, this could be as life and death.”