Coronavirus Digital Special Report: Roanoke City press conference and an exclusive interview with HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson

Digital Originals

Watch Wednesday’s Coronavirus Digital Special Report above. The show includes a live press conference with Roanoke City leaders and an exclusive interview with Dr. Ben Carson, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — The CARES Act and its stimulus payments to many Americans are well known. Beyond direct payments, there are also provisions in the legislation to protect renters and homeowners from evictions.

Dr. Ben Carson, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, told WFXR News in an exclusive interview that protections are included in the CARES Act to make sure renters are not evicted and homeowners can hold onto their largest asset. Carson said if a homeowner falls behind on an FHA, VA, or USDA home loan and proactively contacts the mortgage lender or servicer, a so-called “sub-mortgage” can be established.

“We can take those [missed payments] and amalgamate them into a single sub-mortgage which is tacked onto the end of your primary mortgage without interest” Carson said. “Therefore you don’t have to pay it until you finish paying off your mortgage. And of course, we recognize that there’s a domino effect, so servicers and landlords also get impacted by this. So we’ve got mechanisms whereby they can be taken care of, as well.”

In addition to protections for homeowners and renters, the CARES Act includes funding for communities struggling with a drop in sales tax revenues.

The funds are called “Community Development Block Grants.” Billions of dollars have been distributed to local cities and counties and more could be on the way.

In Roanoke, city leaders have proposed using some of the money to establish a forgivable small business loan for businesses negatively impacted by the governor’s order to close non-essential businesses. A Lynchburg official tells WFXR that it will use its funds on “protects that prevent, prepare for, and respond to Coronavirus.”

The following cities received community development block grants in the WFXR viewing area:

  • Blacksburg: $314,277
  • Danville: $517,740
  • Lynchburg: $420,487
  • Radford: $105,448
  • Roanoke: $1,056,225

“… about two-thirds of it goes through the community development block grants and another third [goes] through the emergency solutions grant, which is primarily aimed at people who are homeless or making sure people do not become homeless,” Carson told WFXR News.

A successful and internationally known brain surgeon before entering politics, Dr. Carson said he believes the administration has done a good job against difficult odds. He said Americans should be proud rather than critical.

“Well, I don’t think anybody could have been prepared for this, quite frankly. But our ability to ramp up has been nothing short of phenomenal. In terms of being able to get the PPE — personal protective equipment — ramped up, the respirators well beyond what we needed, the hospital beds well beyond what we needed. It really is a tribute to our system with FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers who was able to put together a hospital with more than 1,000 beds in less than a week. I mean, we should all be extremely proud of that rather than critical of it.”

Sec. Ben Carson, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

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