Department of Agriculture (USDA)
The USDA announced on April 9 that young adults under the age of 25 experiencing homelessness will now be able to receive meals at emergency shelters participating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CAFCP). USDA typically only reimburses shelters for meals served to children, through age 18, but the American Rescue Plan Act expanded several nutrition assistance programs to reach the most vulnerable populations experiencing food hardship due to the pandemic, including homeless young adults.
Department of Housing and Urban Development
HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge, along with Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont and Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, held a Zoom call on April 14 to discuss the nearly $5 billion in American Rescue Plan funds allocated by HUD to help communities across the country create affordable housing and services for people experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness. Secretary Marcia Fudge announced the allocation of nearly $5 billion in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds on April 8. In the coming weeks, HUD will announce allocations of the ARP funding for emergency vouchers for people experiencing and at risk of homelessness. HUD released the list of American Rescue Plan Act HOME Supplemental Applications.
Department of Treasury
The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service announced on April 14 they are disbursing nearly 2 million payments in the fifth batch of Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) from the American Rescue Plan. People who do not normally file a tax return and do not receive federal benefits, such as those experiencing homelessness, may qualify for EIPs. The IRS is urging people who do not normally file a tax return and have not received EIPs to use IRS Free File to file a 2020 tax return to receive the benefits to which they are entitled.
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
The VA National Center on Homelessness among Veterans is holding a webinar on April 21, from 1-2 pm ET: “Establishing a Care Environment for Homeless Housing Settings: Lessons Learned from the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
Advocacy & Research
Researchers at the University of Illinois and the National Center for State Courts are conducting a national survey on the impact of COVID-19 on the judicial system. The COVID-19 pandemic required federal and state courts to quickly change their operations and procedures. Researchers are seeking to determine which changes worked well and should be kept, which did not work well, and how changes impacted individual cases and access to justice. Results of the study will help identify necessary reforms and plan for future emergencies. Participate by answering a 15-minute survey to report on your own experiences with the courts during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have questions about the study, contact Professor Robin Fretwell Wilson ([email protected]) or Professor Jason Mazzone ([email protected]).
- Survey for litigants and other individuals with legal matters is here: https://ncsc2.iad1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3Odltjr6EwEkwUm
- Survey for attorneys and other representatives is here: https://ncsc2.iad1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_agbbCZRNTPCIJ5Y
NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel and Giridhar Mallya, senior policy officer with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, address what it will take to address the COVID-19 eviction crisis. They urge the Biden administration to strengthen and enforce the eviction moratorium and ensure that emergency rental assistance reaches the households most in need. Beyond these federal actions, lawmakers must advance anti-racist policies and enact long-term, structural reforms to ensure that people with the lowest incomes have a safe, stable, and affordable place to call home.
The Private Equity Stakeholder Project (PESP) published a report on April 14 detailing how Progress Residential and Front Yard Residential, owned by private equity firm Pretium Partners, LLC, have filed to evict more than 1,300 residents during the pandemic, with most evictions filed after the CDC eviction moratorium went into effect. The report comes after the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Federal Trade Commission announced it would investigate evictions by major multistate landlords and private equity firms.
Bloomberg reports corporate landlords backed by private-equity firms are seeking to evict thousands of tenants despite the federal eviction moratorium. The article highlights the report from the Private Equity Stakeholder Project, which found that firms controlled by Pretium Partners, LLC have sought evictions against 1,300 residents in seven states, with a disproportionate number of filings in areas with majority Black populations.
The Washington Post reports that HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge announced on April 8 nearly $5 billion in new grants to state and local governments to address homelessness. These funds, provided through the American Rescue Plan Act, can be used to provide tenant-based rental assistance and acquire and convert hotels and motels into permanent supportive housing.
The Washington Post reports on efforts to distribute nearly $50 billion in emergency rental assistance as the CDC eviction moratorium faces more legal challenges. Quickly distributing so much money is challenging, and NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel notes that only about half the states have created an emergency rental assistance program to do so.
An IRS spokesman told CNN there are no plans to reinstate the non-filers tool, a simple online form to allow low-income people who are not usually required to file tax returns to provide their contact information to the agency, for the third round of economic impact payments. People will need to file a 2020 tax return to receive the stimulus payments and any other expanded credits they may be eligible for, such as the child tax credit or the Earned Income Tax Credit. See NLIHC’s FAQ on Economic Impact Payments (EIP) and guidance for helping people experiencing homelessness access their EIPs.
An op-ed in the Hill urges courts and governments to take immediate action to ensure people who are struggling financially can participate meaningfully in eviction hearings – where payment plans get worked out to keep renters in their homes and landlords receiving incomes. The authors, who are conducting a study of access to justice during COVID-19, argue that action must be taken to ensure the digital divide does not become a justice divide.
The Associated Press explains the rationale behind the federal eviction moratorium and the multiple research studies examining the connection between evictions and health.
State and Local News
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Project Homekey, California’s program to convert hotels, motels, and other vacant buildings into housing, has created shelter for more than 8,000 people at a fraction of the cost of new construction. Since launching last summer, Project Homekey grants have produced 5,911 new units, including 1,627 in the Bay Area.
Mercury News reports that nearly 78,000 Californians have applied for $363 million in rent relief since the state’s program launched on March 15. Some housing advocates and landlords say the patchwork of rental assistance programs throughout the Bay Area may delay or complicate the distribution of these critical resources.
The Baltimore Sun reports that Baltimore will continue housing approximately 500 people experiencing homelessness in hotel rooms through at least June, even though the city has not yet applied for $35 million in federal funds that would pay for it.
NorthJersey.com reports that New Jersey launched a website for renters, landlords, and homeowners seeking information on the latest housing rules, assistance grants, legal assistance, or help with working out a rental repayment plan. The website includes a toll-free phone number, 888-691-3002, that tenants facing eviction can call to be connected with Volunteer Lawyers for Justice for legal aid. Visit the website at: https://www.housinghelpnj.org
Hamilton County agencies are teaming up to help 200 residents at risk of eviction access the county’s $60 million in federal emergency rental and utility assistance. Commissioner Alicia Reese announced a collaborative “action team” between the county’s Sheriff’s Office, Clerk of Courts, and Jobs and Family Services office to conduct outreach about the emergency rental assistance program. Tenants can apply for assistance by visiting https://513relief.org or by calling 513-946-1000.
A Texas House of Representatives Committee on Urban Affairs’ report on the Texas Rent Relief Program outlines several significant problems with the more than $1 billion rent relief program. Out of 72,000 completed actions, only 250 people had actually received rental assistance by the end of March. The Texas Tribune, Dallas Morning News, and Houston Chronicle cover the Texas House committee’s findings.
Texas Housers drafted a brief outline on the issues with Texas’ Rent Relief Program and the steps Texas leadership can take to address these problems. Out of nearly 72,000 applications, Texas’ Rent Relief Program has only successfully assisted to 250 people.
Tarrant County homeless agencies anticipate that homelessness will increase when the federal eviction moratorium is lifted.
Utah Public Radio reports that landlords in Utah, and across the country, who violate the CDC eviction moratorium could face penalties from state and federal authorities, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Federal Trade Commission. Tara Rollins with the Utah Housing Coalition says agencies like People’s Legal Aid can help renters file complaint against property owners who violate the CDC eviction moratorium.
The DCist reports that D.C. will use $350 million in federal funds to provide emergency rental and utility assistance through the new Stronger Together by Assisting You (STAY DC) program. STAY DC will replace the District’s COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program (CHAP), which provided $6.2 million to renters who were financially impacted by the pandemic. It will also augment the District’s existing Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) and Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Learn more about the STAY DC program at: https://stay.dc.gov
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)