Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
Federal Housing Finance Agency
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced on June 3 that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will continue to offer COVID-19 forbearance to qualifying multifamily property owners through September 30, 2021, subject to the continued tenant protections FHFA has imposed during the pandemic (see Memo, 6/7).
Time outlines what people need to know about the federal eviction moratorium, which is set to expire June 30, and explains how renters can access over $46 billion in federal rental assistance. “The challenge now is to get that money to the lowest income renters and the small landlords who need it…before the eviction moratorium expires,” says NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel.
The Wall Street Journal reports that strict eligibility rules and overburdened local officials are preventing much of the $46 billion in federal rental assistance from reaching struggling renters. While Treasury released guidance in May to expedite payments by loosening documentation requirements and allowing direct-to-tenant aid, research from NLIHC shows that many local governments have been slow to act.
Reuters reports a group of landlords filed an emergency petition on June 3 urging the U.S. Supreme Court to end the federal eviction moratorium issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). NLIHC’s Diane Yentel noted that if landlord groups “spent even a quarter of [their] effort instead convincing landlords to apply for and accept the money, maybe they wouldn’t feel such a pressing need to evict low-income tenants who fell behind on rent during the global pandemic.”
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on June 2 denied a request by the Alabama Association of Realtors to lift the stay of a lower court ruling overturning the CDC eviction moratorium. NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel referred to the landlords’ appeal as “astonishing,” given the $50 billion in federal emergency rental assistance made available by Congress.
“It’s something of a race against the clock at this point to get these historic emergency rental assistance funds to the lowest-income and most marginalized, most vulnerable tenants,” NLIHC’s Diane Yentel told CNN Newsource.
As the federal eviction moratorium nears its end, Route Fifty reports that some states and localities are extending their eviction moratoriums as they scramble to distribute emergency rental assistance (ERA). NLIHC Policy Analyst Kim Johnson says jurisdictions are working to balance the need to distribute aid quickly with a desire to incorporate equity in the process to ensure the hardest-hit households can access the funds.
NLIHC Vice President of Research Andrew Aurand spoke to Marketplace about the nearly 400 rent relief programs currently accepting applications and the barriers to distributing money quickly.
CNBC reports that states are speeding up distribution of more than $46 billion in federal emergency rental assistance (ERA). NLIHC’s Andrew Aurand spoke to CNBC about ERA programs and barriers to distributing these critical funds.
CNBC reports that more than 10 million people, or 14% of renters, in the U.S. are behind on housing payments, according to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. With so many renters still behind on rent, the expiration of the federal eviction moratorium on June 30 could result in a wave of evictions.
NPR reports on a study from the Private Equity Stakeholder Project, which found that Pretium Partners, a corporate landlord, has filed four times as many evictions in predominantly Black counties in Georgia than it has in white counties in Florida.
An article in Time reports the United States may soon face a wave of single mothers being evicted. The article describes the need to use the most effective form of homelessness prevention to address the looming crisis: expanding housing vouchers.
State and Local News
Over 25,000 renters and 8,000 landlords are enrolled in Alaska Housing Rent Relief. More than 25,000 applications have passed identification and income verification, and each one has been assigned to nonprofit community partners. To date, over 12,000 applications have been approved for a total of $39 million in payments made to landlords and utility companies.
Governor Gavin Newsom sent a letter to FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell requesting a continuation of FEMA’s 100% cost-share reimbursement for Project Roomkey through at least June 30, 2022.
Governor Gavin Newsom proposed $12 billion in new funding to move people experiencing homelessness into housing, including $8.75 billion to expand Project Homekey, a program to convert hotel and motel rooms and other properties into housing. According to state officials, $800 million spent on Project Homekey last year created 6,000 housing units from hotels, motels, and other repurposed properties, providing shelter for 8,200 people.
Using Project Homekey funds, San Mateo County purchased three locations to convert into housing for people experiencing homelessness.
An op-ed in the Los Angeles Times outlines why the COVID-19 emergency is far from over for vulnerable renters. In California, out of the $355 million in federal emergency rental assistance, only $20 million of rent relief has been approved and $1 million paid out.
Spectrum News reports that many Florida landlords are refusing to accept federal emergency rental assistance (ERA). Landlords’ refusal to participate in ERA programs is complicating the distribution of billions of dollars in critical aid. “It's not happening fast enough to prevent a potentially historic wave of evictions in July if the moratorium expires and these funds haven't been expended,” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of NLIHC.
Months after the City of Jacksonville received $29 million in federal emergency rental and utility assistance, thousands of tenants are still waiting for their applications to be processed and approved. United Way of Northeast Florida is tasked with distributing the majority of the funds – $23 million. So far, the organization has paid just over $1 million to nearly 300 families, leaving more than 2,600 applications pending and $20 million left to pay out.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that DeKalb County has distributed only 3.5% of the $21 million it set aside earlier this year for emergency rental assistance. Advocates and some county leaders are asking DeKalb officials to reconsider their strategy and act with greater urgency.
Amid the pandemic, HOPE Atlanta has expanded services for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. According to HOPE Atlanta, calls for housing assistance have tripled, and the need for food assistance skyrocketed 800%.
Hawaii Governor David Ige on June 7 extended the statewide eviction moratorium for two months, but he does not expect to extend it past August 6. “We are asking all of the advocates and stakeholders to help us implement the mediation programs and really help as many people as we can in that window,” said Governor Ige.
Tenant advocates have seen an increase in informal evictions throughout Idaho during the pandemic. More and more landlords are not renewing leases or increasing rent at the end of the lease term, forcing tenants from their homes. Idahoans in need of rental assistance can apply here.
An op-ed in the Boston Globe urges legislators to prevent a wave of evictions and foreclosures with emergency measures based on the COVID-19 Housing Equity Bill. More than 16,000 evictions have been filed in Massachusetts during the pandemic, disproportionately harming low-income renters and people of color. The author emphasizes that extending eviction protections is critical as the state of emergency is set to end.
The Michigan State Housing Development Authority reports it has spent $42 million of the $282 million in federal rental assistance the legislature appropriated in March, with the other $340 million to be appropriated at a later date. The agency has approved 6,000 of the 32,000 applications it has received for the COVID Emergency Rental Assistance program.
NorthJersey.com reports that tenant lawyers are seeing an increase in landlords filing lawsuits in civil courts against tenants to recoup rental payments. Tenant advocates anticipate the state will see a sustained increase in such civil cases as legislators debate a deal to end the eviction moratorium.
WYNC reports that New York City is preparing to move New Yorkers experiencing homelessness who are currently living in hotels back into congregate shelters. A letter from the city says individuals will be moving back into congregate shelters soon but did not provide a specific timeline. NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel noted on Twitter that FEMA provides 100% reimbursement for eligible non-congregate sheltering costs through September. Additionally, HUD recently allocated $5 billion in emergency housing vouchers for people who are homeless.
BK Reader reports the New York City Council passed legislation that will significantly increase the ability of New Yorkers experiencing homelessness to find housing through CityFHEPS, the city’s rental voucher program.
With Oregon’s eviction moratorium set to expire at the end of June, state Representative Pam Marsh is spreading awareness about two emergency rental assistance programs to help struggling tenants and landlords: the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program and the Landlord Compensation Fund.
The Post and Courier reports that the South Carolina State Housing Finance and Development Authority has not distributed any of the $271 million it received for federal rent and utility assistance. The authority started taking applications the first week in May and is currently processing about 5,000 applications, but it has not yet distributed any aid.
Marketplace reports that some Houston landlords refuse to participate in rent relief programs, noting that “some landlords would rather evict than deal with delays and red tape.”
The Spokesman-Review reports the city of Spokane has opened $6 million in federal rental assistance, as the state and federal eviction moratoriums are set to expire on June 30. The city’s rental assistance funding is divided among programs focused on different groups of renters within city borders – any household; households with minor children at risk of homelessness; landlords; and Black, Indigenous and people of color.
A Washington Post analysis reveals that at least $300 million in federal emergency rental assistance (ERA) remains unspent even as the federal eviction moratorium is set to expire at the end of this month. As of May 5, five of the 15 nearby counties, including the most populous counties in Maryland and Virginia, had not sent any federal money to renters. As of May 30, D.C. has spent $10.5 million (about 5%) of the first $200 million allocated for tenants at risk of eviction.
Department of Housing and Urban Development
HUD Emergency Housing Vouchers: Frequently Asked Questions – Updated June 2, 2021
State CDBG-CV Implementation Quick Guide – May 2021
Department of Treasury
Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds: Frequently Asked Questions – Updated May 27, 2021
U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness
How to Access American Rescue Plan Vouchers – May 24, 2021