Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
The CDC issued a report, “Notes from the Field: COVID-19 Vaccination Coverage Among Persons Experiencing Homelessness – Six U.S. Jurisdictions, December 2020-August 2021.” The study shows that people experiencing homelessness have a lower vaccination rate than the general population of their communities.
Advocacy and Research
The National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) on December 14 released a policy brief, “Assisting Consumers with Rental Debt During COVID-19: Legal Aid and Non-profit Attorneys Share their Experiences,” which the group sent to the CFPB. Read NCLC’s press release that highlights policy recommendations concerning rental debt.
The Eviction Lab on December 9 released a preliminary analysis of eviction filing trends after the CDC eviction moratorium ended on August 26. While eviction filings have not reached pre-pandemic levels, examining city-by-city numbers shows concerning trends in many parts of the country, particularly where renters have few legal protections.
The Private Equity Stakeholder Project reports that despite billions of dollars in rental assistance provided by Congress, corporate landlords have continued to evict tenants in Georgia and Texas.
The Associated Press reports evictions are on the rise across the country. Advocates say the initial narrative that the end of the federal eviction moratorium did not result in a tsunami of evictions was misleading. The increase in eviction filings can be attributed to courts catching up on the backlog of cases; the limits of emergency rental assistance in areas where distribution lags and tenant protections are weak; and rising housing prices in many markets. The article cites research from NLIHC, the Eviction Lab, and the National Housing Law Project.
State and Local News
The City of Huntsville launched Phase 2 of the city’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program on December 13.
The Washington Post reports on the expiration of Phoenix’s last COVID-related eviction moratorium, sharing stories of tenants forced from their homes. One Maricopa County constable has carried out more than 300 evictions since the CDC eviction moratorium expired in August.
The California Department of Housing and Community Development announced the first set of awards for the expanded Project Homekey program. The grants include $105 million for four awards, totaling 433 new homes for people exiting homelessness.
Spectrum News 13 reports on the issues many people are having with OUR Florida, the state’s emergency rental assistance (ERA) program. Florida’s “pay to play” eviction law allows cases to move quickly, resulting in some residents being evicted before their aid arrives. A tenant evicted by her landlord learned that OUR Florida paid out her former landlord a month after she lost her eviction case.
The Georgia Recorder discusses the shortcomings of Georgia’s emergency rental assistance (ERA) program. Georgia’s 9% ERA distribution rate through September was far below the 30% threshold set by the Treasury Department. In its ERA performance improvement plan, Georgia outlined the steps it will take to speed the distribution of aid, including creating a more user-friendly online application portal, increasing community outreach, and streamlining the application process. Georgia is transferring $74 million in ERA to four local rental assistance programs that have distributed their entire ERA1 allocation.
The Advocate reports at least six homeless encampments across east Baton Rouge have been cleared in recent months. The Capital Area Alliance for the Homeless One Stop Services Center has seen a spike in its numbers in the last several months. Advocates attribute the increase in homelessness to the expiration of COVID-related eviction protections, Hurricane Ida’s aftermath, and the lack of affordable housing in the region.
The Kansas City Council voted unanimously on December 9 to establish a program that would provide legal representation to tenants facing eviction, regardless of income. The ordinance provides the city manager with 90 days to identify funding for the program. Supporters of the ordinance say federal COVID-19 relief funds can get the program up and running, but Kansas City will need to identify consistent funding sources to maintain the program.
New Hampshire Public Radio reports approximately 10,000 New Hampshire households have received emergency rental assistance (ERA), with approximately 4,000 applicants still awaiting aid.
The New York Times reports the Legal Aid Society filed a lawsuit on December 13 to force the state to reopen its emergency rental assistance (ERA) program. New York landlords are prohibited from evicting tenants while an ERA application is pending. The lawsuit argues that New York’s recent decision to stop accepting applications eliminated this key protection for struggling tenants, leaving thousands of renters at risk of eviction.
A lawsuit to overturn New York’s eviction moratorium will forge ahead. U.S. District Judge Gary Brown has already declined two attempts to block the temporary moratorium, most recently for a “lack of standing.” His latest order issued on December 1 denied the state’s request to dismiss the suit.
The Toledo-Lucas County Rental Assistance Program relaunched on December 9, making available an additional $10.1 million in rental and utility assistance. The program, which initially opened in May 2021, has distributed nearly $12.6 million in rent relief to nearly 1,900 households.
The Oregon State Legislature approved on December 13 an additional $100 million in state funding to the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program. The legislature also passed legislation (SB 891) to ensure tenants who apply for rental assistance before June 30, 2022, cannot be evicted until their application is processed.
Lane County officials have closed rental assistance applications to all new applicants except renters with the lowest incomes who are facing an eviction. Because the state has paused applications, only those with the greatest needs can apply and trigger the 90-day eviction grace period. Lane County voted on November 30 to extend the grace period from 60 to 90 days for renters who apply for rental assistance.
An estimated 8,355 Oregon households are at risk of eviction as protections keeping them housed expired after they waited for rental assistance for more than 60 days. More than 22,000 households are still waiting for their applications to be considered.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Philadelphia’s nationally recognized Eviction Diversion Program, which requires landlords and tenants to enter mediation and apply for rental assistance, is set to expire at the end of the year. The program is key to Philadelphia having distributed more than $235 million in rental assistance, and it has helped reduce the number of eviction filings by 75% compared with pre-pandemic levels. City Council members are considering legislation that would authorize the city and courts to run the Eviction Diversion Program through December 31, 2022.
Chesterfield County’s emergency rental assistance (ERA) program will stop accepting new applications unless the county receives additional federal funding. The county received $18.8 million in federal rent relief and is on track to exhaust the entire allocation. The county received a surge in new applications when the federal eviction moratorium ended in August.
Department of Housing and Urban Development
- COVID-19 Homeless System Response: Helping HMIS Leads Solve Complex Fund Source Problems – Emergency Housing Vouchers – December 2021
- Vaccination for Children and Adolescents: Considerations for Family Shelters and Housing Programs
Department of Treasury