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D.C. Council OKs Coronavirus-Related Rent, Mortgage Relief

The D.C. Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a second round of legislative changes that will provide rent and mortgage relief for renters and businesses struggling with the coronavirus fallout, setting up the deferment of such payments for at least 90 days for mortgage holders and lenders to negotiate even more long-term payment plans.

The changes, designed to respond to the public health emergency, will also issue up to $500 million in bonds to cope with the city’s own economic challenges during the pandemic and place new restrictions on debt collectors while the crisis continues.

The legislation will bar collection lawsuits and limit lenders and creditors’ contact with borrowers, as well as create a $25 million grant program for hospitals struggling to manage an influx in new cases.

However, while the council’s decision not to extend unemployment insurance to undocumented immigrants drew criticism from progressive groups around the city and some council members.

Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) pledged to continue working with Mayor Muriel Bowser to find some source of funding for undocumented workers, conceding that “we’re all disappointed we have not yet found the relief we want to offer.”

Lawmakers will meet again on May 6, when Bowser is set to propose her 2021 budget.

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