President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development would suspend evictions and mortgages during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
The president announced the plan during his address to the country on the economic decisions coming down the pipeline in the wake of the crippling coronavirus crisis.
HUD later confirmed it official policy, stating that the Federal Housing Administration is enacting an “immediate foreclosure and eviction moratorium for single family homeowners with FHA-insured mortgages” for the next 60 days.
The president also invoke a federal provision that allows the government to marshal the private sector in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump, appearing in the White House briefing room for the third day in a row, said he would sign the Defense Production Act “in case we need it” as the government bolsters resources for an expected surge in cases of the virus.
Trump also said he will expand the nation’s testing capacity and deploy a Navy hospital ship to New York City, which is rapidly becoming the epicenter of a pandemic that has rattled the U.S. economy and rewritten the rules of American society. A second ship will be deployed to the West Coast.
The president also said the Housing and Urban Development Department will suspend foreclosures and evictions through April as a growing number of Americans face losing jobs and missing rent and mortgage payments.
The steps came on a fast-moving day of developments. Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau jointly announced that the U.S.-Canada border would be closed, except for essential personnel and for trade, as the nations try to reduce the spread of a virus afflicting people in both countries.
The administration has told Americans to avoid groups of more than 10 and the elderly to stay home while a pointed reminder was given to millennials to follow the guidelines and avoid social gatherings. Trump likened the effort to the measures taken during World War II and said it would require national “sacrifice.”
The president has already asked Congress to speed emergency checks to Americans, enlisted the military for MASH-like hospitals and implored ordinary people — particularly socially active millennials — to do their part by staying home to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
His proposed economic package alone could approach $1 trillion, a rescue initiative not seen since the Great Recession. Trump wants checks sent to the public within two weeks and is urging Congress to pass the eye-popping stimulus package in a matter of days.
Overnight, the White House sent lawmakers a $46 billion emergency funding request to boost medical care for military service members and veterans, fund production of vaccines and medicines, build 13 quarantine centers at the southern border for migrants, make federal buildings safer, and reimburse Amtrak for $500 million in anticipated revenue losses, among other purposes.
The Trump request also reverses cuts to the Centers for Disease Control and National Institutes of Health that Trump proposed in his February budget for next year and would create a $3 billion fund for unanticipated needs.
Bigger than the $700 billion 2008 bank bailout or the nearly $800 billion 2009 recovery act, the White House proposal aims to provide a massive tax cut for wage-earners, $50 billion for the airline industry and $250 billion for small businesses.
Representative responds to Trump’s China comments
Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena) responded to the president’s comments about China working to “contain the coronavirus.”
Chu retweet Trump’s tweet, adding comments about his previous characterization of the virus as the “China virus.”
“A reminder that before things got really bad and he had to shift blame, Trump knew the name of the virus and had a different line on China,” she tweeted.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.