Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
Join SAMHSA’s Homeless and Housing Resource Center on March 25, 2021 from 3:30-5 pm ET in exploring equitable and culturally appropriate interventions to engage people experiencing homelessness in treatment and deliver services in non-congregate settings. Learn more and register.
CNBC reports on NLIHC’s national letter, signed by more than 2,200 organizations, urging President Biden to extend the federal eviction moratorium beyond its March 31 expiration and to improve and enforce its protections. “Increased evictions lead to increased spread of, and potentially deaths from, COVID-19,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel.
The Associated Press examines how the American Rescue Plan Act could permanently alter the United States’ social safety net. Housing advocates, including NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel, say the relief packages should stave off rental debts for now, but economic hardships and the need for additional housing assistance will extend past the end of the pandemic.
A Government Accounting Office (GAO) report finds federal, state, and local eviction moratoriums have reduced evictions during the pandemic, but some eligible renters have not been protected by the federal eviction moratorium due to a lack of awareness of the moratorium or its requirements. The report recommends that the CDC, in coordination with other relevant federal entities, develop and implement a communication and outreach plan designed to ensure eligible renters and property owners are aware of and invoke the eviction moratorium. The report cites NLIHC’s rental assistance database and research analysis.
MarketWatch discusses the Government Accounting Office (GAO) report, which found that a lack of awareness and enforcement of the CDC eviction moratorium could be contributing to continued evictions despite the ban. Housing advocates continue to urge the Biden administration to extend the moratorium to provide time for federal rental assistance to be distributed and to strengthen and enforce the moratorium. “If the federal eviction moratorium were allowed to expire, many of those tenants would be evicted before the money reaches them,” said NLIHC’s Diane Yentel.
The GAO Blog discusses the new Government Accounting Office (GAO) report on eviction moratoriums and what might happen when the federal eviction moratorium ends on March 31. The article provides a link to NLIHC’s emergency rental assistance database.
Shelterforce explores state and local efforts to expand or revive non-congregate sheltering programs and purchase hotels as long-term housing solutions for people experiencing homelessness. NLIHC’s Diane Yentel describes FEMA’s decision to provide full reimbursement for non-congregate sheltering costs as a “game changer” and discusses the need for states and cities to plan exit strategies for people in hotels and motels. “The next step can’t be to send people back to the sidewalk they were sleeping on before the pandemic. That’s immoral and unacceptable,” said Diane Yentel.
CNBC reports that a federal judge in Ohio has ruled that the CDC exceeded its authority when it enacted the federal eviction moratorium. “This order could immediately result in a flood of evictions of struggling renters resulting in increased spread of, and potentially deaths from, COVID-19,” said NLIHC’s Diane Yentel.
The Department of Justice released a statement stating that the decision in Skyworks v. CDC, which concluded that the federal eviction moratorium exceeds CDC’s statutory authority, only applies to the particular plaintiffs in that case.
“Now that Congress has appropriated $46 billion to address rent arrears, these lawsuits to overturn the moratorium are frivolous,” said NLIHC’s Diane Yentel. “These landlords will be made whole, but it will take time to get the money into their hands. Their eagerness to overturn the moratorium, despite unprecedented resources to pay rent arrears, only underscores the need to be sure the moratorium is extended at least until resources are expended. For some of these landlords, it appears it was never really about the money.”
MSNBC’s Joy Reid began her interview with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia Fudge on March 18 by citing statistics from NLIHC. When asked what HUD can do about the housing crisis, Secretary Fudge responded, “as a result of the American Rescue Plan, HUD can do an awful lot.”
NPR’s Morning Edition reports that landlords struggling to stay afloat see a lifeline in federal rent relief funds. A Houston landlord is going door to door offering to help residents apply for the federal emergency rental assistance dollars that are starting to flow to landlords and tenants.
People reports on the COVID-19 housing and eviction crisis, highlighting how millions of renters are behind on their rent payments and at risk of eviction when the federal eviction moratorium ends on March 31. The article discusses our country’s pre-existing affordable housing crisis, noting that people of color are disproportionately impacted by housing instability and eviction.
The New Republic reports that mothers, particularly women of color, experience evictions at higher rates. The author discusses immediate and long-term solutions to addressing our country’s affordable housing crisis.
State and Local News
The Emergency Rental Assistance Alabama program is now taking applications. Landlords and tenants can apply at https://eraalabama.com/. Learn more about the ERA Alabama program at a webinar on March 18 at 3 pm CT.
Pima County supervisors voted on March 16 to direct up to $2 million to support legal defense costs for residents facing eviction. The eviction defense motion, proposed by Supervisor Matt Heinz, will create a program funded by federal COVID-19 relief money to provide legal counsel for tenants while increasing marketing and outreach for eviction prevention clinics. In Pima County, there are 4,376 outstanding eviction cases dating back to last March, and a tsunami of eviction cases is expected in early April.
After California expanded its vaccine guidelines, making all people experiencing homelessness eligible, Bay Area counties are increasing efforts to vaccinate unhoused residents by visiting homeless shelters and Project Roomkey hotels or by setting up mobile vaccination clinics.
A hybrid of state and local programs established to distribute $2.6 billion in federal rent relief to California landlords and low-income renters are now accepting applications. Partnerships between the state, counties, large cities, and social service agencies in the Bay Area will help distribute roughly $500 million in rent relief funds.
A California COVID-19 Rent Relief call center is now available to answer eligibility questions, provide information on local assistance, and help with applications. Call 1-833-430-2122 between 7am-7pm PT.
The Tampa Bay Times reports on the housing resources in the recently passed COVID-19 relief package. The emergency rental assistance funds passed by Congress in December 2020 have started trickling down to Florida and local governments in the Tampa Bay area. However, neither the state nor many of those local governments have started distributing it.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that coronavirus relief funds have helped move 450 formerly homeless individuals into apartments, many with one-year leases. Another 190 people are set to move into homes within the next several weeks.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that Georgia tenants can use an online portal to determine if they are eligible for the state’s $522 million emergency rental assistance program and apply to have up to one year of their rent covered.
Despite the federal eviction moratorium, tenants in Richmond County have continued to be evicted from their homes during the pandemic.
The Newnan Times-Herald reports that despite the federal eviction moratorium, some landlords continue to move forward with evictions. Chief Constable J.T. Moore created an affidavit that landlords must sign before the eviction takes place. By signing the affidavit, the landlords state that they are aware of the federal eviction moratorium and that violations of it can be punished by heavy fines. For many of the “writs of possession” scheduled with a CDC affidavit, tenants move before the physical eviction takes place.
There are 8,000 eviction cases pending before the DeKalb magistrate’s court, and untold numbers of tenants have been forced from their housing because landlords refused to renew their leases or because they were unaware of the CDC eviction protections. DeKalb received $21 million in federal rent relief funds, and two days after opening applications, at least 7,000 people had applied for aid.
Advocates are encouraging Illinois residents to urge their legislators to support the COVID-19 Emergency Housing Act. The bill would help ensure that people with the most severe needs can access federal emergency rental assistance, seal eviction cases filed during the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recovery period, expand access to sealing prior eviction records, and temporarily halt certain foreclosure proceedings.
A bill that would have made exceptions to Illinois' eviction moratorium failed to pass out of committee on March 10. State Representative Charlie Meier, who introduced the bill, told the House committee he wants to go after so-called “bad actors” who receive federal rental assistance but do not pay their rent. State Representative Will Guzzardi took issue with the bill, noting that federal rental assistance funds were sent to landlords and not to the tenants. “I believe that this bill may be attempting to solve a problem that is not, in fact, happening,” said Representative Guzzardi.
Iowa Legal Aid is seeing an influx in calls for assistance as the federal eviction moratorium is set to expire on March 31, 2021. There have been 11,000 eviction filings in Iowa since the start of the pandemic, and Iowa Legal Aid has seen a 140% increase in calls for eviction assistance compared to the last six years.
The Lens reports that despite the Biden administration’s decision to fully cover the costs of non-congregate sheltering, New Orleans has not moved to restart its hotel housing program. When asked why, officials provide different explanations. “I personally spoke to hotel owners and operators who wanted to participate in this program to expand the number of rooms,” said Andreanecia Morris, executive director of HousingNOLA. “This is not a resource issue, this is not a money issue. It’s a will issue.” Unsheltered individuals are at extremely high risk for severe illness and death from coronavirus. “If you look at what the cost of inaction is, there really isn’t a good reason for why states and cities aren’t using this more broadly,” said NLIHC Vice President of Public Policy Sarah Saadian.
The Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis has stated that more than 300 public housing tenants will be at risk for eviction for nonpayment of rent when federal and local moratoriums end. Arundel Community Development Services is contracted with Civil Justice Inc. to provide legal assistance and financial counseling, among other resources, to those residents.
The Michigan State Housing Development Authority launched the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program (CERA) on March 15. CERA is a $282 million program, with an additional $340 million appropriated by the state legislature.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports Nevada’s CARES Housing Assistance Program, which exhausted its funds in December 2020, has received an additional $161 million in federal funding. The program had a waitlist of 12,000 applicants in December 2020, and an additional 9,000 applications have been submitted this year.
New Hampshire Housing launched the New Hampshire Emergency Rental Assistance Program on March 15. Like the prior housing stability programs, rental assistance will be administered by the state’s five regional Community Action Partnership agencies.
The application period for a second phase of New Jersey’s COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program opened on March 22, 2021. The program will provide approximately $353 million in emergency rental assistance. More than 15,000 households received aid from the first phase of the rental assistance program.
Despite state and federal eviction protections, New Jersey landlords continue to illegally evict tenants. Housing advocates have urged state officials to punish landlords who defy Governor Murphy’s executive order and the CDC order. The Volunteer Lawyers for Justice and a group of housing advocates sent a letter in November to Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and the head of the State Police to urge them to address the growing issue of illegal lockouts.
The New York Times reports that an analysis of court data shows that New York City renters in COVID hot spots are four times more likely to face eviction. The areas hit hardest by the coronavirus, largely Black and Latino neighborhoods, have seen the most eviction cases.
Housing advocates estimate at least 400,000 renters in North and South Carolina will be evicted when the federal eviction moratorium expires on March 31.
Philadelphia landlords can pre-register for Phase 4 of the PHLRentAssistProgram. Pre-registering will speed up the process once the program starts accepting applications. Philadelphia received approximately $97 million for emergency rental and utility assistance.
WESA investigates eviction actions taken by The Alden – a complex run by Philadelphia-based multi-state landlord Aion Management and Allegheny County’s eviction hotspot. While the suburban complex makes up .5% of the county’s rental units, The Alden accounts for nearly 4% of the pandemic-era eviction cases in Allegheny County.
Within one week of launching the S.C. Stay rental and mortgage assistance program, more than 7,000 people had applied for aid. Nearly 5,000 of those applicants were deemed eligible, and housing officials think those 5,000 will exhaust the existing federal rent relief funds. The SC Stay program was funded through $25 million in CDBG-CV funds. South Carolina will receive $340 million in rent relief from the most recent COVID-19 relief legislation. Up to 180,000 renters in South Carolina are at risk for eviction when the moratorium is lifted on March 31.
The Texas Rent Relief Program has launched a new application system, making it easier to complete and submit an application, add missing documentation, and track the status of payment requests. Access the application at https://texasrentrelief.com/.
TexasMonthly reports that Harris County Justice of the Peace Lincoln Goodwin’s court has one of the highest eviction caseloads in the country. In his court, only 15% of tenants challenging their evictions have claimed protection under the CDC order, and lawyers with Lone Star Legal Aid have seen landlords circumvent the CDC order.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan on March 15 extended the city’s eviction moratorium through June 30, 2021. Extending the eviction moratorium provides housing stability for residents as new federal rent relief funds are distributed. In addition to the current proposal for $23 million for rental assistance, the City of Seattle has committed $18 million to rental assistance in addition to state and King County resources for landlords and tenants.
Department of Agriculture
USDA Fact Sheet: Update on USDA Activities to Contain the COVID-19 Pandemic – Updated March 17, 2021
Department of Treasury
Emergency Rental Assistance Frequently Asked Questions – Revised March 16, 2021
Internal Revenue Service (IRS)