Department of Housing and Urban Development
HUD released a statement on the swift action it has taken in the first week of the Biden administration to address the immediate housing needs during the COVID-19 pandemic while laying the groundwork to address the nation’s larger, systemic housing challenges.
The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs on January 28 held the confirmation hearing for HUD Secretary-designate Marcia Fudge. “It bears mentioning, particularly in this moment of crisis, that HUD – perhaps more than any other department – exists to serve the most vulnerable people in America,” said Representative Fudge (D-OH). Read NLIHC’s statement on Representative Fudge’s nomination.
Acting HUD Secretary Matthew Ammon on January 21 announced that HUD has extended the Federal Housing Administration eviction and foreclosure moratorium until March 31 and extended the Public and Indian Housing eviction and foreclosure moratorium until March 31. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced on January 26 that it will execute the Biden administration’s request to extend the deadline for borrowers with FHA-insured mortgages through March 31, 2021.
Advocacy and Research
Human Rights Watch released an FAQ document on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tenants’ right to housing and the current state of pandemic-related tenant protections in the U.S. The FAQ highlights NLIHC’s research on the looming eviction crisis and the need for emergency rental assistance.
A new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that eviction moratoriums reduce COVID-19 infections by 3.8% and deaths by 11%. Moratoriums on utility disconnections reduce COVID-19 infections by 4.4% and mortality rates by 7.4%.
Truthout reports that tenant organizing has exploded across the country in response to the COVID-19 housing crisis. A growing collection of organizers are approaching eviction prevention as a community-based solution to the impending eviction crisis.
The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) released a research brief, the first in a yearlong study on the eviction crisis in the U.S. The brief provides an overview of the legal eviction process through the view of a single jurisdiction: Shelby County, Tennessee. LSC will soon release another brief examining the effects of pandemic and eviction moratoriums at the state and local level. Learn more about the nationwide LSC eviction study.
CNBC reports on a new analysis from Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, and Jim Parrot, a fellow at the Urban Institute, demonstrating that nearly 20% of renters in the U.S. are behind on their payments. The findings show that renters owe an astonishing $57.3 billion in back rent, with the average renter owing $5,600 in rent and being nearly four months behind. The article discusses the letter NLIHC and more than 2,000 national, state, and local organizations and elected officials sent to President Biden, calling on the administration to strengthen and enforce the federal eviction moratorium.
NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel discusses the Treasury Department’s FAQ on the $25 billion rental assistance program, noting that NLIHC is urging Secretary Janet Yellen to rescind the guidance. “It is unfortunately and unnecessarily restrictive. It is requiring localities to have burdensome documentation, including some that could do long-term harm to some tenants, like requiring eviction notices in hand before people can get those funds,” Diane said.
Sarah Saadian, NLIHC vice president of public policy, spoke to Business Insider on the importance of strengthening and enforcing the CDC eviction moratorium, the public health impacts of eviction, and the critical need to ensure emergency rental assistance and other resources are distributed equitably.
Wired explores the lasting impact of COVID-19 on homelessness in the U.S., noting that advocates are hopeful that pandemic-related efforts to address the health and housing needs of individuals experiencing homelessness will be expanded and improved.
Two lawyers who represent low-income tenants penned an op-ed for CNN outlining why the federal eviction moratorium should remain in effect long after the pandemic is over. The authors argue that state and local jurisdictions, which typically regulate when eviction is permissible, can and should prevent forced displacements.
CBS News discusses the $25 billion emergency rental assistance program established by Congress in December, highlighting who is eligible and how to apply for aid.
CNN Business examines the multiple economic disasters facing President Biden: evictions, unemployment, and hunger. The article mentions that despite the federal eviction moratorium, many landlords are using legal loopholes to evict tenants.
NextAdvisor reports on President Biden’s extension of the federal eviction moratorium through March 2021 and the steps renters must take to be protected.
The Washington Post examines international efforts to vaccinate people experiencing homelessness.
State and Local News
A patchwork of local, state, and federal eviction protections has made it difficult for the average tenant and landlord to navigate the process. While the federal eviction moratorium has protected many Alabama renters, others have fallen through the cracks due to loopholes and a lack of enforcement. Dev Wakeley, a policy analyst for Alabama Arise, says that current eviction moratoriums are not enough to protect low-income renters and others facing eviction.
An op-ed in AZ Central discusses recent efforts by Phoenix officials to scale back proposed shelter space. Nonprofit organizations are working to address the affordable housing and homelessness crisis, which is expected to worsen in the wake of the pandemic. City officials’ resistance to these efforts has left advocates questioning the metro Phoenix area’s commitment to addressing homelessness.
The LA Times explores how President Biden’s housing plans could help people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles. “We have a tremendous opportunity ahead with President Biden, having run on a commitment of housing as a human right, and putting out his intention to make housing assistance universally available to everybody who needs it,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel.
The San Francisco Public Press discusses President Biden’s executive order announcing that FEMA will fully reimburse local governments for the cost of housing individuals who are homeless in non-congregate shelters and why San Francisco should take advantage of this policy change.
Los Angeles officials hope that President Biden’s executive order directing FEMA to provide 100% reimbursement for non-congregate sheltering will breathe new life into Project Roomkey. The city of LA has committed to spending about $95 million to rent hotel rooms through the end of March, and the county has budgeted $113 million.
LA Councilmembers Mike Bonin and Nithya Raman filed a motion on January 26 calling for the city of Los Angeles to expand the Project Roomkey program. The motion asks city officials to determine quickly how to expand and improve Project Roomkey and urges the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority to consult with unhoused individuals on ways to improve the program.
Governor Gavin Newsom and state legislative leaders on January 25 announced an agreement to extend California’s eviction moratorium through June 30, 2021, while using federal COVID-19 relief funding to pay off up to 80% of eligible tenants’ unpaid rent. Despite the moratorium extension, some remain concerned about a lack of enforcement of the protections.
Data from sheriffs’ offices in the Bay Area’s nine counties show that at least 527 individuals and families in the Bay Area were evicted between March 19 and the end of December. These evictions, however, represent only a fraction of the total number of people forced from their homes since many tenants leave or get locked out before sheriffs get involved.
Colorado Housing Connects, a statewide housing hotline that connects Coloradans to housing counseling and legal services, reports that its call volume has doubled since September. The hotline has received an average of 1,166 inquiries per week so far in January, compared to an average of 563 inquiries per week in September.
The pandemic has significantly increased pressure on Colorado Springs’ agencies to provide shelter, food, and other critical resources.
Many Connecticut renters are experiencing housing instability, even as the federal and state eviction moratoriums have been extended. Between 77,000 and 161,000 people in Connecticut are at risk for eviction. Connecticut’s moratorium expires on February 9.
According to the Office of the State Courts Administrator, nearly 48,000 evictions were filed in Florida from March 1 through December 31, 2020. At least hundreds of Florida renters have lost their homes since the federal eviction moratorium has been in effect.
Marketplace spoke with Dr. Ted Greer Jr., CEO of HOPE South Florida, an organization that helps individuals experiencing homelessness find housing, food, and employment, about the increased demand for the organization’s services since the start of the pandemic.
Louisville advocates are urging elected officials to take action to prevent a surge of evictions and a rise in homelessness. Governor Andy Beshear said Kentucky will extend its eviction moratorium.
According to Maryland Legal Aid, landlords are filing evictions as “tenant hold overs,” which is when renters remain in a property after their month-to-month lease expires. Many judges are ruling in favor of landlords despite the extenuating circumstances and federal and state eviction bans.
Housing data indicate a dramatic spike in eviction filings since Massachusetts’ eviction moratorium expired in October, with more than 6,500 evictions filed statewide in the last three months. A study by the Boston Area Research Initiative found that large corporate landlords are behind the majority of evictions, and many of these larger landlords have not signed the state’s Eviction Diversion Pledge.
The Lansing State Journal reports that over 1,000 households in Greater Lansing received assistance through an eviction diversion program funded through the CARES Act and other state and local funds. Despite the diversion and other assistance programs, evictions are still taking place, with over 770 eviction cases filed in the district court that serves Lansing between early October and January 25. That number could be higher, as court officials said the court is behind on processing.
Thousands of eviction filings are piling up in St. Louis and St. Louis County courts. According to data compiled by the Eviction Lab, landlords have filed almost 5,000 evictions since mid-March.
The Douglas County Board on January 26 decided to allocate $2 million of its $10 million unspent CARES Act funds for rent and mortgage assistance. The county will give the funds to the Metro Area Continuum of Care for the Homeless to distribute. Omaha is expected to receive about $22 million in rent relief from the new COVID-19 relief bill, and the county will receive about $4 million to help Douglas County residents who live outside city limits.
Amid the ongoing pandemic and COVID-related housing crisis, free legal advice from organizations like New Hampshire Legal Assistance and the Legal Advice and Referral Center plays a critical role in keeping New Hampshire renters housed.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka announced on January 26 that Newark has been awarded $8.4 million for emergency rental assistance. The city will use the new federal funding to expand Newark’s existing tenant protection programs.
During the 2021 legislative session, New Mexico lawmakers are expected to focus on pandemic relief, including a bill that would modernize the housing code to prevent evictions and a bill to prohibit source of income discrimination. The New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness supports the modernization bill, as it would help individuals temporarily residing in motels overcome barriers to finding permanent housing solutions.
The New York City Eviction Prevention Roundtable released a report outlining policy recommendations to keep New York tenants housed during and after the immediate crisis of COVID-19 and address the viability of building owners. The recommendations seek to streamline and expand eligibility for existing housing assistance programs and address growing economic needs.
The Oklahoman discusses the recent extension of the federal eviction moratorium through March 2021. According to Open Justice Oklahoma, more than 7,200 evictions have been filed in Oklahoma County since the onset of the pandemic, with about 2,000 evictions granted. Oklahoma County recently submitted a request to receive an allocation of the $25 billion emergency rental assistance program established by Congress in December.
Pennsylvania Democratic lawmakers introduced legislation to address the COVID-19 housing crisis. The legislation includes extending the eviction and foreclosure moratorium, waiving late fees for tenants affected by COVID-19, and providing homelessness resources.
Lebanon County residents in need of rental assistance can submit a preliminary application for the county’s COVID-19 emergency rental assistance fund.
The Texas Tribune reports that as Austin officials and unsheltered residents are advocating for better housing solutions, Governor Greg Abbott is working on a legislative ban on encampments. A state-sanctioned encampment in Austin is full and cannot accept new residents. Austin city councilmembers are considering buying two hotels that would house 150 individuals experiencing homelessness.
With federal emergency rental assistance funds on the way, Dallas officials are preparing to distribute $40 million in rental assistance to the people who need it most.
The Virginia House of Delegates will decide whether tenant protections established because of the COVID-19 pandemic should be permanent. Thousands of Virginians remain at risk of eviction as coronavirus infections and deaths continue to rise.
The Seattle Times discusses President Biden’s housing plan and how it could impact Seattle’s homelessness crisis. NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel says that with Democrats in control of the White House, Senate, and House, President Biden’s plan to make housing assistance an entitlement is achievable