Capitol Correspondence - 03.30.21

Food Assistance, Housing and Student Loan Developments That Could Benefit People with Disabilities and DSPs

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Because people with disabilities are more likely than the general population to face housing, food and income insecurity, we flag three developments for the awareness of our members who help people with disabilities navigate food and housing benefits, as well as their student loan payments. These potential policy changes, for which many details are still pending, could also be beneficial for the Direct Support Professional (DSP) workforce. Many DSPs rely on public assistance because the wages they receive based on fixed, non-negotiable Medicaid reimbursement rates do not support all their living expenses.

USDA signals it will revisit rules on able-bodied food assistance eligibility: As announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP): “Under normal circumstances, adults who are age 18-49, able to work, and do not have dependents are not able to receive SNAP benefits for more than 3 months within a 3 year period unless they are working, enrolled in a work program, or participating in some combination of those two for 80 hours each month. The vacated rule limited states’ ability to request waivers of the time limit to certain restricted conditions. The time limit is currently suspended due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. USDA plans to publish a notice in the Federal Register to confirm its return to long-standing regulations that existed prior to the publishing of this rule.

Biden Administration considering extending ban on housing eviction: As reported by the Washington Post: “The Biden administration is weighing whether to extend a soon-expiring federal policy that prohibits landlords from evicting their cash-strapped tenants, as the U.S. government seeks to buy more time for an estimated 10 million families who have fallen behind on their rent.

The extension under discussion could run at least through July, according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a decision that isn’t yet final. Without it, the federal eviction ban is set to lapse in seven days, opening the door for some Americans to be removed from their homes. […]

The Biden administration is also discussing some limited, additional policy tweaks to the moratorium, the two people familiar with the matter said. […]

The Biden administration also has weighed taking a greater role in enforcing the moratorium against landlords who refuse to honor it, the person added. Other, more robust changes seem unlikely, reflecting housing experts’ belief that Congress should adopt a more sweeping solution.”

Department of Education announces relief for student loan holders with total and permanent disabilities. Per the Department’s press release: “The Department of Education (Department) announced relief for certain borrowers who have received student loan discharges due to total and permanent disability. These changes will ensure no borrowers are at risk of having their loans reinstated, meaning they would have to repay their debt—for failure to provide earnings information during the COVID-19 emergency.”