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Homeless people who live in tents along a underpass in Washington D.C. Photo by Michael S. Williamson: The Washington Post via Getty Images.

Affordable housing advocates are calling on Congress to do more to protect the fragile housing options for low-income workers who are at heightened risk of losing their homes as the COVID-19 public health crisis drags on.

Why it matters: Without a place to stay, it's next to impossible to maintain the "social distance" necessary to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Driving the news: Nearly two dozen community groups are today sending a letter urging lawmakers to provide financial assistance for people who are homeless or in precarious housing situations, rather than "bailing out corporations."

The big picture: The high cost of housing has put enormous financial pressure on workers whose wages have not kept pace. The looming economic slowdown will make it harder for workers to make rent.

"The legislation passed by Congress this week utterly failed to address people's need for housing," the letter reads. "Without housing, our families, neighbors, and members will not be able to follow any recommendations from the CDC or our local governments to slow the spread of COVID 19."

The groups, which represent renters, tenants, unsheltered and homeowners under increasing financial pressure, are asking for three things:

  1. Moratorium on evictions, including on foreclosures and evictions of both public and private housing, and utility shutoffs.
  2. National mortgage and rent holiday, including passing legislation to reduce rents and mortgage payments during the crisis.
  3. $200 billion Housing Security Fund to provide rent and payment assistance, funding for expanded services for people experiencing homelessness, and assistance to families needing safe housing during the crisis and its aftermath.

Earlier this month, about 100 members of these organizations — including Stand Up Nashville, Center for Popular Democracy Action and Pittsburgh United — held a rally outside the Department of Housing and Urban Development to press for greater assistance for affordable housing. HUD officials declined to meet with the protesters.

Where it stands: President Trump directed HUD to halt foreclosures and evictions of HUD-backed properties — which would help only about 6.7 million people — until the end of April. The Federal Housing Finance Agency is directing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to halt foreclosures and evictions for 60 days.

Reality check: While Congress is unlikely to agree to these demands in full, the existing moratoriums will not be enough to prevent people from losing their homes as experts predict it will take longer to get COVID-10 under control.

Go deeper: How to protect the homeless from the coronavirus

Go deeper

Updated 5 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Contact tracing fizzles across America — New clues emerge on long COVID — Omicron is finally burning out — It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Virginia AG says public colleges can't mandate COVID vaccines —Alaska governor joins Texas lawsuit over National Guard vaccine mandate — Navy discharges 45 sailors for refusing vaccine — Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum — White House: 60M households have ordered free COVID-19 rapid tests.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker
8 hours ago - World

Biden will move U.S. troops to Eastern Europe "in the near term"

President Biden boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews on Jan. 28. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said on Friday he plans to move U.S. troops to Eastern European and NATO countries “in the near term.”

Driving the news: “Not too many” U.S. troops, Biden added in remarks to reporters at Joint Base Andrew upon returning from a trip to Pennsylvania.