Department of Education
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced plans to distribute $800 million to support students experiencing homelessness under the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief – Homeless Children and Youth (ARP-HCY) fund. ED announced state allocations for the $800 million total allocated in the American Rescue Plan and will distribute $200 million in funding on Monday.
Department of Housing and Urban Development
HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge held a Zoom call with House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters, Colorado Governor Jared Polis, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, and San Francisco Mayor London Breed to discuss the nearly $5 billion in American Rescue Plan (ARP) homelessness assistance funds. The nearly $5 billion in HOME-ARP funding is the first of two homelessness-related funding opportunities from the ARP that HUD will release. In the coming weeks, HUD will announce allocation of funding for emergency vouchers for people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness.
Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
The Department of Treasury and IRS continue to urge people who do not normally file a tax return and have not received Economic Impact Payments, including people experiencing homelessness, to file a 2020 tax return so they can receive the benefits they are entitled to, including the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit, the Child Tax Credit, and the Earned Income Tax Credit. Filing a 2020 tax return will also assist the IRS in determining whether someone is eligible for an advance payment of the 2021 Child Tax Credit, which will begin to be disbursed this summer.
Advocacy and Research
The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) released updated research on how women of color are disproportionately behind on rent and mortgage payments during the pandemic.
Researchers from the Eviction Lab released a new research article outlining eviction filing patterns in the U.S. in 2020 and analyzing the efficacy of eviction moratoriums. The authors estimate that at least 1.55 million fewer eviction cases were filed in 2020 than in a normal year, but report that filing rates exceeded historical averages when eviction protections lapsed. Black and female renters received a disproportionate share of eviction cases filed during the pandemic. Access the article, “U.S. Eviction Filing Patterns in 2020” here.
The New York Times reports that only a small portion of the more than $46 billion in federal emergency rental aid has reached landlords and tenants. Housing experts, however, point out that careful preparation by state and local governments may ensure these resources reach tenants with the greatest needs. “Getting the money out fast isn’t necessarily the goal here, especially when we focus on making sure the money reaches the most vulnerable people,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel. The article cites research from NLIHC, NYU Furman Center, and the Housing Initiative at Penn.
CNN provides an overview of the historic $70 billion in housing and homelessness resources provided in the federal coronavirus relief packages. Housing experts hope these critical funds will be distributed quickly but also strategically. “This funding could be transformational and reduce homelessness across the country. It won’t end it, but it could make a real dent,” said NLIHC’s Diane Yentel.
CNBC examines how the tireless efforts of housing organizers, activists, and policy experts over the past year have kept tens of millions of renters in their homes. NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel says these victories over the past year – the federal eviction moratorium and billions of dollars in housing and homelessness resources – are the result of decades of work by affordable housing advocates and activists.
Reuters reports on its investigation into large corporate landlords, like Invitation Homes, that are driving the eviction crisis by continuing to force tenants from their homes, despite the federal eviction moratorium. In response to media reports and housing advocates’ repeated calls to strengthen and enforce the CDC moratorium, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission announced in late March they would start investigating eviction practices, particularly by major multistate landlords.
State and Local News
Organizers with Arkansas Renters United have partnered with the Democratic Party of Arkansas and the Young Democrats of Arkansas to inform renters about the CDC eviction moratorium and the steps they must take to be protected. Advocates say many evictions are happening simply because renters do not know about the moratorium. The groups say it has knocked on 14,000 doors across the state and intervened in more than 130 evictions.
According to Tenants Together, while Latino people make up 57% of renters in California, but only 35% have applied for rental assistance statewide. KPBS reports the San Diego Housing Commission is conducting targeted outreach about available rental assistance to the Latino community by placing ads in English and Spanish language media, sending postcards in Spanish to 170,000 households and posting ads on public transportation.
Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott announced the city is exploring the potential purchase of hotels to use as permanent housing for people experiencing homelessness. Baltimore city has been housing hundreds of residents in hotels during the pandemic, and advocates have called on city officials to tap into the estimated $670 billion Baltimore will receive from the American Rescue Plan to acquire and convert properties such as hotels and motels into permanent housing.
MPR reports the Minnesota legislature has proposed competing plans for an eviction moratorium “off-ramp.” The House will soon vote on a bill (H.F. 12) to extend limits on evictions for people behind on rent, impose rules around lease non-renewals, and restrict the ability of landlords to raise rents. This legislation differs from a bill (S.F. 1470) passed by the Republican-led Senate that allows evictions after one month for some renters but halts most actions for longer than that.
An op-ed in the Star Tribune urges state legislators to enact an eviction moratorium “off-ramp” that steps back the moratorium with intentionality and sustains the housing stability of renters across Minnesota. The authors say there must be a commitment to protecting all renters, particularly renters of color who are most likely to experience housing instability and loss of their homes through formal or informal eviction.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the St. Louis County Council on April 27 approved a measure to halt temporarily 600 evictions that resumed earlier this month, but not without pushback from landlords and some council members who say the legislation is not enforceable against a standing court order. The council voted 4-2 to approve the measure that enforces federal health officials’ guidance to halt evictions through June 30 by barring landlords from filing evictions.
The Santa Fe Reporter reports that Santa Fe officials included funding for several eviction prevention measures in the proposed city budget for fiscal year 2022, including $75,000 for a tenant/landlord eviction hotline. The budget would add $1.8 million to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund this year, with a significant amount of that money allocated for emergency rental assistance. According to the grassroots advocacy organization Chainbreaker Collective, as many as 5,700 Santa Fe residents could face eviction in the wake of the pandemic. Chainbreaker Collective and the California-based research firm Human Impact Partners hosted a panel on the findings in its report and efforts needed to prevent a crisis when the moratoriums are lifted.
New York lawmakers are considering legislation that would extend eviction protections through August 31, 2021. In addition to tenant protections, the bill would extend mortgage and tax foreclosure prevention for homeowners and small landlords. Housing advocates have raised concerns that the current moratorium would expire before the state launches its more than $2 billion emergency rental assistance program. Spectrum News reports that tenant advocates rallied in Foley Square on April 26, calling on elected officials to extend the statewide eviction moratorium and speed up the creation of the rental assistance application process.
The Oregonian reports that as of April 15, Multnomah County had allocated less than 12% of the $8 million in federal rental assistance funds it had received. The county and other local agencies say they are moving deliberately to ensure the funds reach the households most in need. Alison McIntosh, a spokesperson for the Oregon Housing Alliance, says she believes it is more important that agencies focus on getting rental assistance to the households most at risk of eviction, even if that takes additional time.
Houston Public Media reports that landlords filed more than 2,000 evictions in Houston and judges continued hearing thousands of cases during a six-week period when Mayor Sylvester Turner claimed evictions were on hold.
The Associated Press shares how a Dallas lawyer, Mark Melton, has taken up a mission to help people facing eviction during the pandemic. Melton has recruited over 175 attorneys who have assisted more than 6,000 people, helping renters under eviction protections and how to access rental assistance. Despite the federal eviction moratorium, landlords continue to evict tenants, and many renters show up in court without legal representation or unaware of their rights. “Without representation, the majority of tenants lose their cases and ultimately are evicted,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel.
NPR reports that many residents in a close-knit immigrant community at the Southern Towers, an apartment complex in Alexandria, have been hit hard by the pandemic and threatened with eviction over the past year. About 60% of the 4,000 residents who live at Southern Towers are immigrants, mostly from Africa, and the majority of tenants are Black. A tenant organizing group called African Communities Together reports that CIM Group, a Los Angeles-based private real estate company that acquired Southern Towers in August 2020, has aggressively sought to evict residents, despite the ongoing pandemic and eviction moratoriums. The aggressive eviction filings have caused widespread fear among the residents, many of whom self-evict or must show up to court without legal representation.
The Seattle Times and Business Insider report that Washington is the first state in the U.S. to guarantee lawyers for low-income tenants facing eviction. Governor Jay Inslee signed a right to counsel guarantee as part of a larger bill aimed at preventing evictions when the federal eviction moratorium expires on June 30. The new law ensures free access to legal aid for tenants who receive public assistance or who have incomes 200% of the federal poverty level or below.
Wyoming Public Media reports that Wyoming’s $200 million Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) will start accepting applications on April 29. The article cites NLIHC’s FAQ on COVID-19 and rural communities. Learn more about Wyoming’s ERAP program here.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Department of Housing and Urban Development
Multifamily Q&A: CDC Eviction Moratorium – Updated April 26, 2021
Multifamily Q&A for COVID-19 – Updated April 26, 2021
CDBG-CV Program: Economic Development Quick Guide – April 2021