President Trump announced Wednesday that he had ordered federal housing officials to suspend evictions from public housing and foreclosures on mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration until the end of April as the fast-spreading coronavirus crisis forced a number of Americans out of work or reduced their wages.
Trump also said he would invoke the Defense Production Act, a Korean War-era law giving the federal government more authority to force private companies to produce needed goods.
The authority could help address shortages in medical equipment such as masks, gloves and ventilators, or supply goods needed to combat the spreading virus.
“There’s never been an instance like this where no matter what you have it’s not enough,” Trump said at the White House.
The two actions further underscore the level of economic and political crisis that the coronavirus has inflicted on the country and much of the world.
“Millions of Americans face significant financial hardships because of the coronavirus outbreak, which means some people will not have income,” said Ben Carson, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, in a conference call with reporters. “As a result of that, many people who face mortgages are in trouble. We have decided to make an attempt to stem the tide.”
Trump compared the challenge to World War II, when young people volunteered for military service and workers and companies swiftly pivoted to a wartime economy, churning out tanks and planes instead of cars and appliances.
“Now it’s our time,” Trump said. “We must sacrifice together because we are all in this together and we’ll come through together.”
Times staff writer Liam Dillon contributed to this report.