New NLIHC Resources
- Frequently Asked Questions: Treasury’s Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Program
- “American Rescue Plan Act”: Estimated Allocations of Homeless Assistance Grants
President Biden announced on February 24 that the COVID-19 national emergency declared last March will remain in effect beyond March 1, 2021, given that the pandemic continues to cause significant risk to the public health and safety of the country.
Department of Veterans Affairs
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced it will extend existing moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures and VA loan forbearance requests to June 30.
The National Consumer Law Center released a new 50-state report analyzing statewide protections against utility shut-offs of households where someone is seriously ill. The report finds that most states can improve their protections. Download the report and appendices, including each state’s rules and recommendations for crafting a strong rule at http://bit.ly/ill-consumer-utility
The National Health Care for the Homeless Council (NHCHC) is circulating a sign on letter to governors and state and local health authorities calling on officials to give COVID-19 vaccine priority status to people experiencing homelessness, especially individuals living in shelters, encampments, and other congregate settings. Read the full letter and sign on.
The Economist reports research demonstrating that eviction moratoriums in the U.S. have helped to slow the spread of COVID-19, likely saving thousands of lives. The researchers estimate that policies limiting evictions reduce COVID-19 infections by 3.8% and deaths by 11%.
NPR reports that the pandemic has exacerbated racial disparities in housing instability and eviction and could widen the gap for years to come. Black renters face higher rates of housing instability and eviction. During the pandemic, Black people have been more likely than white people to lose their jobs and three times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19.
Stateline examines the struggles tenants are facing amid a patchwork of state and local rent relief efforts. Some states, such as Michigan, have not accepted federal rent relief funds due to partisan standoffs, and other states have struggled with the logistics of distributing rental assistance, leaving tenants at risk for eviction.
CityLab discusses a new study by RAND Corporation demonstrating that falling behind on rent or being evicted takes a toll on the amount of sleep people get. While the study predates COVID-19, the pandemic has called attention to the connection between housing instability, poor sleep, and serious health problems that, in turn, make people more susceptible to COVID-19.
Time reports on the looming eviction crisis, examining the challenges facing renters and mom-and-pop landlords. Almost half of the nearly 49 million rental units in the U.S. are owned by small landlords. The article highlights how racial inequities in housing are visible in our current eviction crisis and discusses how President Biden’s housing platform includes universal housing vouchers.
State and Local News
Arkansas Renters United says renters desperately need more rental assistance. While President Biden’s action to extend the federal eviction moratorium through March 31 is crucial, many Arkansans are struggling to find work and afford their rent. In 2020, more than 3,000 households in Arkansas faced eviction for nonpayment of rent. Tenants who are facing eviction can reach out to Legal Aid of Arkansas and the Center for Arkansas Legal Services.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted on February 23 to extend a local eviction moratorium through June 30. The moratorium applies where it does not overlap with state protections for residential tenants unable to pay rent. It covers commercial evictions, no-fault evictions, and prohibits evicting tenants for unauthorized occupants, pets, and other nuisances.
Despite statewide eviction protections, evictions continue to occur across California, including in the city of Richmond. Due to a high number of evictions, Richmond city attorneys are working on drafting an eviction protection ordinance modeled after San Francisco and Alameda counties, which have seen the fewest evictions in the region.
The Housing Division of the Colorado Department of Local Affairs saw more rental assistance requests in January than in all of 2020. The department oversees two rental assistance programs – the Emergency Housing Assistance Program (EHAP) and the Property Owner Preservation program (POP). Visit the state’s pandemic relief housing program data dashboard to see the requests made of, and payments made by, these programs. The dashboard will be updated weekly on Mondays.
9 News reports that while documented evictions in Colorado courts are low due to eviction moratoriums and rental assistance, there are likely thousands of “hidden” or “informal” evictions taking place. The state has seen a surge in rental assistance applications, indicating a potential looming eviction crisis. In January alone, Colorado renters and landlords applied for $52 million in rent relief. A report from the governor’s eviction prevention task force indicates between 150,000 and 230,000 Colorado households are at risk for eviction, with Black Coloradans 6.6 times more likely to be behind on rent than white renters.
The Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA) is working to reopen the Delaware Housing Assistance Program (DEHAP), which will receive about $200 million in federal rental assistance funds. DSHA is developing a web portal for applicants and working to ensure they have the capacity to review and process payments to landlords.
Despite the federal eviction moratorium, some Florida landlords are using a loophole to continue evicting tenants on month-to-month leases. Attorneys at the Community Justice Project and Legal Services of Greater Miami are seeing many situations in which landlords are evicting month-to-month tenants.
The Sun-Sentinel reports that Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade counties are finalizing details of how they plan to distribute millions of federal rental assistance. Palm Beach County will begin accepting applications to its $45.2 million program in the beginning of March. Miami-Dade County has $60 million in rent relief to distribute. Of 6,000 to 7,000 pending eviction cases in Miami-Dade County, nearly 1,700 await a judge’s signature – the final authorization to evict tenants.
Despite federal and statewide eviction moratoriums, landlords in Hawaii are using loopholes to continue evicting tenants. Landlords are evading the moratorium by selling their properties or having relatives move into the property. Governor David Ige extended Hawaii’s moratorium through at least April 13.
Despite state and federal eviction moratoriums, Chicago housing advocates continue to receive calls from renters facing illegal evictions or tactics designed to force them from their homes. The Metropolitan Tenants Organization has received more than 500 calls since last March about illegal lockout attempts.
The Illinois Supreme Court announced two new temporary orders and one amended order concerning evictions and electronic signatures in Illinois courts. The orders, developed by a COVID-19 task force, address the anticipated wave of evictions when state and federal eviction moratoriums expire and improve access to justice for self-represented litigants.
Indiana lawmakers voted to overturn Governor Eric Holcomb’s veto of Senate Bill 148 and immediately enact the measure. The new law gives landlords the right to bring expedited eviction actions against tenants for nonpayment of rent and eliminates local rental regulations. Critics of the law say it is unconscionable for Republican lawmakers to attack local tenant protections while 720,000 Hoosiers are currently at risk of eviction amid the ongoing pandemic.
Kentucky legislators introduced a bill (S.B. 264) that would prohibit the governor from issuing an eviction moratorium during a formal state of emergency, as Governor Andy Beshear did last year to protect renters amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Another bill advancing through the legislature would prohibit Governor Beshear’s administration from temporarily suspending utility shutoffs and waiving late fees during emergencies.
While evictions have decreased in New Orleans under the federal eviction moratorium, tenants continue to be evicted in Metairie. One of eight justices of the peace in Jefferson Parish is taking a far stricter approach to evictions than his counterparts in New Orleans, resulting in fewer trial delays and more evictions.
The Boston Globe reports that over the last several months, the City of Malden has invested significant resources into staving off evictions, including providing legal aid to tenants, negotiating with large landlords, enacting an eviction moratorium, and tapping federal COVID aid for a city rent relief program. The city has partnered with local social service agencies and received assistance from housing advocates and volunteer groups in helping renters access aid.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison on February 17 announced his office is suing a landlord for allegedly evicting tenants illegally during the pandemic. The landlord falsely claimed her relatives would move into the property, which is an exemption to the CDC moratorium, but instead she put it up for sale. “This case should serve as a warning to any landlord even thinking about it: If you falsely claim an exemption applies in an effort to force your tenants out during this emergency, my office will not hesitate to take action against you,” Ellison said in a news release.
Minnesota Housing announced that Minnesota’s new COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program will open in late March.
Advocates and organizations serving Lincoln tenants facing eviction report the number of evictions continues to grow as eviction protections are set to expire at the end of March. Renters facing eviction are encouraged to reach out to the Lincoln Tenant Assistance Project and Community Action’s Tenant Support Services resources website.
Nebraska is now accepting applications for its $200 million Emergency Rental Assistance Program. Nebraska residents, except those in Douglas or Lancaster Counties, can apply for assistance now.
Lincoln and Lancaster County together have received nearly $15 million in federal rental and utility assistance funds. More than 1,100 people contacted Lincoln’s rental assistance administrators since the program began last year, and 850 payments have been approved. Both counties are preparing to staff and launch an online portal to help an influx of applicants for the new funds. Housing advocates have called on the city to enact its own blanket eviction moratorium, but neither the city council nor the mayor has proposed one.
New York’s eviction moratorium pause ends on Friday, February 26. After February 26, pending eviction cases can move forward again in court and new cases can be filed – unless a tenant submits a hardship declaration form to the court or their landlord. The moratorium is extended until May 1 only for tenants who filled out the hardship declaration. Tenants can use the Eviction Free NY tool (also available in Spanish) to fill out and submit the declaration online.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that advocates are urging Philadelphia officials to use FEMA funding to provide hotel rooms for individuals who are homeless. Despite the Biden administration’s decision to provide 100% reimbursement for non-congregate sheltering, Philadelphia officials do not plan on using FEMA funds to house individuals who are homeless in hotels. Advocates report that conditions at some of the city’s shelters are dangerous and continue to urge city officials to reopen COVID hotels and expand the program to meet all the demonstrated needs.
Pittsburgh City Council Members announced they are committed to enacting a citywide eviction moratorium when they meet next week. Until then, they will work with other city officials and Mayor Bill Peduto’s administration to craft a law that temporarily protects people facing eviction. Pittsburgh and Allegheny County are partnering with Action Housing and Dollar Energy on a $27 million rental assistance program.
Houston Public Media reports that more than 13,000 evictions have been filed since the CDC eviction moratorium went into effect, and more than 24,000 evictions have been filed in the Houston area since the start of the pandemic. According to a new report from January Advisors, there is a significant gap in how Harris County judges are applying the federal order, including whether or not judges choose to tell renters about their rights under the CDC moratorium.
Texas Housers explains how tenants can apply for assistance from the Texas Rent Relief Program.
The Deseret News reports that nearly half of Utahns say the state should enact an eviction moratorium. Housing advocates contend that the federal eviction moratorium is failing to protect large numbers of Utah renters. Governor Spencer Cox does not plan to reenact the statewide moratorium, but he reports the need for an additional round of federal rent relief.
DCist reports that Virginia will receive at least $160 million in additional federal rent relief. Evictions, however, are proceeding across the state. Despite the federal eviction moratorium, nearly 5,000 eviction judgments were issued in Virginia between October and December of 2020, according to the RVA Eviction Lab. A new Virginia law requires landlords to help tenants obtain rental assistance before they can move forward with an eviction.
Learn about the Equal Justice Works Housing Justice Program, which was designed to prevent evictions and increase tenant protections in Virginia, and the work they have been doing to fight for tenants amid the COVID-19 pandemic and looming eviction crisis.
King County Superior Court Judge Johanna Bender rejected a landlord group’s challenge to three Seattle laws meant to protect renters from eviction when the COVID-19 eviction moratorium expires.
WKOW reports that the federal eviction moratorium has not kept landlords from finding ways to evict Wisconsin renters. Despite the moratorium, Legal Action of Wisconsin says there have been over 7,000 eviction cases filed across the state since September 4, 2020, with 424 of those in Dane County. The Tenant Resource Center (TRC) estimates that Dane County alone is facing an $8.5 million rent debt every month. TRC started accepting applications for a new rental assistance program funded through the federal government.
The pandemic has increased housing instability in the Milwaukee area, and these impacts will continue to exist after the immediate COVID-19 crisis passes. Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Pedro Colon suggests that some of the emergency tools enacted to address housing issues during the pandemic be adapted to provide long-term solutions.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
COVID-19 Vaccination for People Experiencing Homelessness: Frequently Asked Questions – Updated February 17, 2021
Department of Agriculture
USDA Fact Sheet: Update on USDA Activities to Contain the COVID-19 Pandemic – February 24, 2021
Department of the Treasury
Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Frequently Asked Questions – Revised February 22
National Health Care for the Homeless Council