ATLANTA — "This is a way to help keep our people in their homes, give them badly needed assistance," U.S. Rep. David Scott said in an interview with 11Alive on Tuesday.
Scott, a Democrat representing Georgia's 13th District, introduced the State House Relief Act (HR 6368) on Monday.
He said the bill would provide states with a total of $35 billion in funding to assist homeowners in need of mortgage payment assistance, principal reduction, or utility payment assistance, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We are getting them to stay in place, stay put," Scott said of the response to the COVID-19 virus. "We are getting orders from the governor (Brian Kemp), don't move, stay in your house. Well, we have to make sure they have a house to stay in."
Over the last several days and weeks, Scott said there has been unprecedented job losses and interruptions, which is leading to great uncertainty amongst Georgians about their paychecks.
The funding would be distributed from the U.S. Treasury, directly to state governments according to the congressman. States would then handle claims and send checks directly to mortgage lenders and utility companies.
Scott believes his plan would help keep parts of the economy afloat, by keeping money in circulation and allowing banks and utility companies to continue to receive payments.
"It will apply to all 50 states, including the District of Columbia, our territories of Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands," Scott said.
Scott added that the funding would be in addition to direct payments in the form of checks for individuals and families that lawmakers are currently discussing. Discussions have included those checks in amounts ranging from $1,200 to $3,000 to assist with regular expenses.
"That isn't going to help pay a mortgage bill if people aren't working and need help with it," Scott said.
If federal funding is approved, the congressman said that in Georgia, applications would most likely be handled by the HomeSafe program, which has already offered mortgage payment assistance using federal funding and is equipped to assess the local need.
After he introduced his bill on Monday, Scott said he is now hopeful that his bill will be included with and passed as part of the larger aid package currently being debated by Congress.
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