Senator Collins Announces $48.5 Billion in COVID-19 Emergency Funding for Transportation, Housing Programs

Senator Collins also included a provision that will benefit Maine organizations that serve homeless youth

Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), the Chairman of the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, announced that the Senate voted 96-0 last night to pass a $340 billion supplemental appropriations bill to help protect the health and well-being of Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The legislation includes a section she co-authored directing $48.5 billion to support transportation and housing programs.

 

Senator Collins was also successful in including a provision that was requested byMaineHousing, New Beginnings Inc. in Lewiston, and other providers that serve homeless youth in the state. This provision will benefit youth homeless providers across the country.  Last year, Senator Collins secured a $3.35 million Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program grant for Maine.  Organizations expressed concern, however, that they would not be able to complete the program’s requirements before the deadline of September 30, 2020, while simultaneously responding to the increased demand for services due to COVID-19.  Senator Collins included language in the supplemental appropriations bill extending the deadline by one year.

 

Other highlights of the package that will benefit Maine specifically include $19.5 million for the state’s airports, at least $10 million for homeless assistance grants, and at least $10 million for Community Development Block Grants (CDBG).  The flexible nature of CDBG grants will allow local governments to make investments to support infectious disease response such as rehabilitation of a community facility to establish an infectious disease treatment clinic and make home modifications for seniors enabling them to remain safely in their homes. 

 

“The United States is in the midst of a crisis that is unprecedented in our recent history.  To fight the COVID-19 pandemic, additional resources are vital to help support communities facing increased demand for services and bolster programs that serve the most vulnerable members of our society,” said Senator Collins.  “I am pleased that we were able to reach this bipartisan agreement to make these substantial investments that will help protect the health and improve the lives of the American people.”

 

Below is the full list of the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs that were included in the package:

 

Total: $48.5 billion

 

DOT: $36.1 billion

 

  • FAA Airport Improvement Program – $10 billion to support airports that have lost revenue from declines in traffic. Airports rely on landing fees and passenger facility charges to operate airports, so this additional funding will ensure airports do not default on bond payments and can continue to operate and clean airports (Estimate of $19.5 million for Maine airports)

 

  • Essential Air Service  $56 million to ensure air service continues to communities in the program. As a result of the coronavirus, overflight fees have declined and additional funding is needed to maintain funding levels.

 

  • Federal Highway Administration – Provision clarifying that states can issue special permits for overweight vehicles and loads to allow for the free flow of critical relief supplies during the current coronavirus epidemic for the duration of the fiscal year. 

 

  • FTA Transit Assistance for Urban and Rural Areas – $25 billion to ensure transit authorities can continue to operate service while facing a decline in farebox revenue.  (Estimate of $83 million for Maine)

 

  • Amtrak  $1 billion to help with Northeast Corridor and National Network operating revenue loss. This includes a $239 million set aside for state supported routes, such as theDowneaster to ensure that states are not required to provide additional funds to Amtrak.

 

HUD: $12.4 billion

 

  • Homeless Assistance Grants  $4 billion in grants for unsheltered and sheltered homeless as well as diversion assistance to prevent homelessness. (Estimate of $10 million for Maine, with additional funding based on need)

 

  • Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) – $5 billion to provide states and communities with additional funds to handle COVID-19 response and public health needs. (Estimate of $10 million for Maine, with additional funding likely)

 

  • Housing for the Elderly – $50 million to maintain housing stability and services for this at risk population.

 

  • Tenant Based Rental Assistance Shortfall Prevention Fund  $1.25 billion to maintain current rental assistance due to an anticipated decrease in tenant rent payments

 

  • Public Housing Operating Fund  $685 million to provide operating assistance to public housing public housing authorities to decontaminate public areas and to cover anticipated decreases in tenant rent payments as a result of a loss of income loss.(Estimate of $2 million for Maine)

 

  • Project Based Rental Assistance – $1 billion to maintain current rental assistance due to anticipated decrease in tenant rent payments

 

  • Housing for Persons with Disabilities  $15 million to maintain current rental assistance due to anticipated decrease in tenant rent payments

 

  • Housing Opportunities for Person with Aids (HOPWA $65 million to help one of the most vulnerable populations to the COVID-19 virus with their housing by giving grants to local communities, States, and nonprofit organizations.  This will allow extra funds for people with Aids/HIV to be quarantined.

 

  • Indian Housing Block  $300 million to provide funds for homeless prevention and to limit the spread of coronavirus by reducing overcrowding in housing on tribal lands.

 

  • Fair Housing –  $2.5 million for additional fair housing enforcement

 

  • Youth Homelessness Demonstration Grants – Language is included that will provide a 1-year extension of the deadline for grant funds to be obligated.