Washington, D.C.—At the hearing to review the fiscal year 2021 budget request for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Senator Susan Collins, the Chairman of the Housing Appropriations Subcommittee, questioned Secretary Ben Carson on HUD’s response to the coronavirus.
“Two of the populations that HUD programs serve, the homeless and seniors, who comprise a significant portion of HUD’s rental assistance programs, are particularly at risk of this new virus and related complications,” said Senator Collins. “Mr. Secretary, how has the spread of the coronavirus affected your Department’s administration of programs that are aimed at at-risk populations?”
Dr. Carson, who is a physician, and a member of the Administration’s Coronavirus Task Force, told Senator Collins that HUD has formed a task force composed of the Department’s leadership. They meet daily to discuss how to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including by developing contingency plans for working remotely and providing guidance to cleaning staff on how to properly eradicate the virus.
“We’ve also…designed a tool kit which we sent out to all of the people that we serve,” Dr. Carson explained.
HUD’s toolkit has been provided to Public Housing Authorities, assisted housing facilities, and supportive housing programs for the elderly and the disabled. Dr. Carson said the toolkit provides guidance on “best practices, in terms of who they need to be in contact with with respect to the local health agencies, and a list of best practices in order to prevent the spread of disease.”
Last week, Senator Collins, a senior member the Appropriations Committee, voted to advance a $7.8 billion package to fight the coronavirus, which was signed into law on March 6, 2020. She recently announced that the Maine CDC will receive $4.6 million through this funding.
In addition, Senator Collins led a letter that was signed by 12 members of the Aging Committee urging the Department of Health and Human Services to take action to protect seniors from the virus.