Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
The Arizona Mirror reports on the Treasury Department’s requirement that slow-spending emergency rental assistance (ERA) programs submit program improvement plans to the department by November 15. The plans must explain how the state and local grantees will address barriers to distributing ERA to households in need. The article highlights NLIHC’s report on ERA spending and performance trends.
NPR reports eviction filings have increased sharply since the federal eviction moratorium ended on August 26. The race to distribute federal emergency rental assistance (ERA) is more urgent than ever, but some ERA programs are still implementing practices that delay and block families from receiving aid.
The New York Times examines the growing eviction crisis hitting communities across the country, particularly those communities with limited renter protections and poor-performing emergency rental assistance programs. Housing advocates and experts say the true extent of the eviction crisis is understated by available data on evictions.
CNBC reports at least eight states and more than 20 cities have eviction protection policies in effect.
Bloomberg CityLab discusses the states and localities at risk of losing federal emergency rental assistance (ERA) funds if they do not submit to the Treasury Department a program improvement plan demonstrating their commitment to ensuring ERA reaches households in need. The article highlights some of the worst-performing states and cities, noting that states with Republican governors make up the majority of programs that failed to hit the federal spending threshold.
State and Local News
Rental assistance has been a lifeline for many Arizonans throughout the pandemic, but the various rental programs established over the past year have different regulations and restrictions, creating confusion for tenants and landlords. Rent relief is needed more than ever as eviction filings in Maricopa County have doubled since the federal eviction moratorium ended in August.
The Los Angeles Times reports the city and county of Los Angeles have rented nearly 1,400 rooms in nine hotels for people experiencing homelessness as of this November. The Biden administration announced on November 9 FEMA will extend reimbursement of costs of eligible non-congregate sheltering through April 1, 2022. Los Angeles County, which operates two of the hotels, is reviewing how the FEMA extension might impact its plans to continue using the hotel sites.
Politico reports on California’s efforts to reduce homelessness through Project Homekey – a statewide program to convert hotels and motels into affordable housing. California provided temporary shelter to over 48,000 people in hotel rooms during the pandemic through Project Roomkey. Within months, the state launched an effort to convert hotel rooms into permanent housing using federal coronavirus relief funds. Congress provided $5 billion in homelessness resources through the American Rescue Plan Act that can be used to purchase and convert non-congregate shelters into permanent housing.
Despite being approved for $4,900 in rent relief through Our Florida, a Florida man was evicted when his landlord refused to accept the assistance.
Georgia Public Radio reports slower-spending states, like Georgia, were required to submit a program improvement plan to the Treasury Department by November 15 explaining how they will address barriers to distributing Emergency Rental Assistance funds. NLIHC’s new report says Georgia’s slow distribution of rental assistance is concerning due to the state’s large renter population.
The reopening of the Illinois Rental Payment Program (ILRPP) will be delayed until Monday, December 6. According to the Illinois Housing and Development Authority, the reopening is delayed because vendors need additional time to ensure the application platform is functioning properly.
There have been 300,000 household utility disconnections across Illinois since June 2021. Fifty-two organizations across Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa have established a #NoAmerenShutoffs coalition to urge utility companies and Governor J.B. Pritzker to suspend shutoffs and evictions amid the ongoing pandemic.
Rock Island County is experiencing a rise in eviction filings since the federal eviction moratorium ended in August.
The Indiana Supreme Court implemented a pre-eviction diversion program on November 1 to help landlords and tenants access federal rental assistance. Some advocates and officials are concerned that landlords will decide to proceed with the eviction process rather than utilize the pre-eviction diversion options. According to WBBA public radio, 6,000 eviction cases have been filed in Indiana since the federal eviction moratorium ended.
August has seen a substantial increase in homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic, and residents expect this trend to continue as pandemic-related eviction protections expire. The Kennebec Journal reports city officials are considering long- and short-term solutions to homelessness, including providing emergency shelter and expanding the supply of affordable housing. Two local hotels recently stopped partnering with the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program to house individuals in long-term stays, leaving more than 40 residents scrambling to find housing.
The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law’s Tenant Representation Initiative has prevented hundreds of COVID-related evictions by providing legal counsel. In collaboration with the United Way of Greater Kansas City, the Tenant Representation team uses federal coronavirus relief funds to provide rental assistance throughout Jackson County and Kansas City, Missouri.
The application period for New Jersey’s emergency rental assistance program closes on December 15. Renters can apply for funds at njdca.onlinepha.com or call 609-490-4550 to enter into a lottery. Learn more about available resources for New Jersey residents here.
New York state’s eviction moratorium, which expires January 15, 2022, allows landlords to challenge a tenant’s hardship declaration by submitting a sworn statement claiming the tenant has not lost income during the pandemic. Tenant advocates with the Legal Aid Society say judges have begun scheduling eviction hearings, even if landlords have insufficient evidence to support their claim about their tenants’ financial status.
The Ohio Valley Resource examines how the affordable housing shortage, COVID-19 pandemic, and climate change have collided in the Ohio Valley.
Oregon Housing and Community Services announced on October 12 the state will pause accepting new applications for the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program (OERAP) for six weeks, starting on December 1. Oregon Housing and Community Services estimate nearly $289 million in federal emergency rental assistance allocated to Oregon has been requested, and the program will be fully subscribed. After December 1, the agency encourages rental to apply for other rent relief programs across the state to receive the 60-day safe harbor period (90 days in Multnomah County and unincorporated areas of Washington County).
Eviction filings are on the rise across Texas after the federal eviction moratorium ended and as rental assistance funds are running out. The Texas Rent Relief Program stopped taking applications, and tenants across the state say their landlords have refused rental assistance funds. Housing advocates say a new law will make evictions even more traumatic for tenants forced from their homes. The legislation (HB900) eliminates all landlord liability for destroying tenants’ possessions during evictions.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports Tarrant County made changes to its rental assistance program to align with Treasury Department guidance on allowing applicants to self-attest if they cannot provide certain documents. Applicants will still need a photo ID and the landlord will still be required to provide a copy of the lease and statement of the amount of back rent owed. Since the Texas Rent Relief Program stopped accepting new applications, the responsibility of keeping tenants housed falls solely on localities.
Vermont Governor Phil Scott extended the state’s non-congregate sheltering program through March 2022 following the Biden administration’s decision to extend FEMA funding through April 1, 2022. Homeless advocates have been camping on the statehouse steps for the past month to protest the state’s homeless policies. Even with the new funding, however, there may be a shortage of hotel rooms.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Interim Guidance on People Experiencing Unsheltered Homelessness – Updated November 4, 2021
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
- COVID-19 Homeless System Response: Winter Planning Resources – Updated November 2021
- COVID-19 Homeless System Response: COVID-19 Preparedness Checklist for Shelter Facilities – November 2021
- COVID-19 Homeless System Response: Meeting Winter Shelter Needs and Mitigating Health Risks – November 2021
- COVID-19 Informational Flyer: What to Do in a Shelter When Someone Shows COVID-19 Symptoms – November 2021
FEMA Funding for COVID-19 Response Continues – November 10, 2021