Additional Coronavirus Updates – October 18, 2021

National Updates

Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

HUD’s Office of Block Grant Assistance is hosting a four-part webinar series for Community Development Block Grant CARES Act (CDBG-CV) grantees on best practices of CDBG-CV project implementation. Learn more here.

U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH)

The USICH hosted a webinar with HUD’s Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs (SNAPS) and FEMA’s Public Assistance (PA) Division to discuss joint guidance HUD and FEMA published in September about strategies for transitioning people out of non-congregate shelter as a result of the pandemic and into safe, stable permanent housing. Watch the webinar and view the slides and transcript.


NPR’s Planet Money examines the slow distribution of federal emergency rental assistance (ERA) across the country, highlighting issues like burdensome documentation requirements and landlords refusing to participate. NPR notes that Treasury will begin recapturing funds from ERA programs not using the funds.

The Hill and the Associated Press report that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued an interim final rule prohibiting individuals living in HUD-subsidized housing from being evicted for nonpayment of rent unless the tenants are given a 30-day notice and provided information about federal emergency rental assistance. “This rule is a significant step in raising tenant awareness about the availability of funds that can assist them with past due rent and allowing them additional time to access relief that may stave off eviction entirely,” said HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge.

A new national poll from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health founds more than a quarter of renters reported serious problems paying their rent in the past several months. The poll looked at the four largest cities in the U.S. and found that Houston’s rent crisis was by far the worst, with 53% of renters reporting issues paying rent. The poll found that families of color bear a disproportionate share of the pandemic’s socioeconomic impacts.

Stateline discusses why states with small populations say the Treasury Department’s plan to recapture unspent emergency rent relief and redistribute it elsewhere is unfair, potentially depriving them of millions of dollars to address affordable housing issues.

Bloomberg Law reports that President Biden’s options to prevent a wave of evictions when the pandemic subsidies will be limited if Congress does not include the housing voucher expansion included in the Build Back Better Act.

State and Local News

Alabama reports Alabama has spent only $6.2 million out of $23.3 million in federal emergency rental assistance (ERA) as of September 30. The Alabama Housing Finance Authority is contracting with HorneLLP, a Mississippi-based contractor, to administer the program. Invoices from HorneLLP show that most of the $6.2 million have been spent on paying the employees administering the program. Horne has awarded funds to just 3,451 households.


As thousands of San Jose residents brace for a wave of evictions after California’s moratorium expired, the city has opened two centers to help renters navigate emergency rental assistance (ERA) applications. As of October 4, the centers have helped about 500 households. Most of the renters seek help because of the lengthy, complicated application process and language barriers. More than half of renters who came to the East San Jose center speak only Spanish.

The Los Angeles Times editorial board argues there should be a way for the court system to ensure landlords have done the bare minimum they are required to do before eviction court proceedings start. California landlords are required to apply for rental assistance before moving to evict a tenant, but court officials say clerks processing eviction requests are not equipped to determine whether landlords have filed the required paperwork.


The Colorado Newsline reports that members of a state subpanel tasked with recommending ways to spend $400 million in ARPA State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds for affordable housing are struggling with the time crunch and ideological differences. The subpanel is comprised of 15 people from organizations ranging from a landlord association to a nonprofit that serves people experiencing homelessness.


WFLA reports on the most recent emergency rental assistance (ERA) program data, which show that ERA1 and ERA2 programs in Florida have ramped up distribution since July, but some Tampa Bay communities have slowed down their payments. Fewer households have been assisted by some of the programs administered by Tampa Bay municipalities.


The City of Atlanta and United Way of Greater Atlanta announced that the Emergency Housing Assistance Program reopened on October 4 to distribute an additional $12 million in federal emergency rental assistance. The program is on track to distribute all funds – totaling $15.2 million – by mid-October.

The Southern Poverty Law Center reports on an increased number of evictions in extended stay hotels in Atlanta. Long-term residential hotels are often the only source of stable, safe housing for low-income people, disproportionately people of color, who would otherwise be homeless. The Atlanta Legal Aid Society filed a lawsuit against the owners of the Efficiency Lodge in Decatur after they forced tenants from the hotel. The lawsuit argued that because the residents lived there for months and even years, they should be given the same rights as tenants in apartments or homes. A Superior Court judge ruled they must be considered tenants under the law.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports Henry County has spent $6.35 million in federal emergency rental assistance funds.


Renters at risk for eviction may be eligible to receive aid through the Illinois Court-Based Rental Assistance Program. The program launched last month across Illinois except in Cook County, which will join the program this week.


Two Indianapolis state representatives sent a letter to Governor Eric Holcomb urging him to accelerate the state’s distribution of federal emergency rental assistance (ERA). The letter highlights the importance of spending the remaining $544 million in federal ERA before funding expires and will be at risk of being recaptured by the federal government.

The Indianapolis Star outlines how Hoosiers can apply for federal emergency rental assistance.

An op-ed in the Indy Star argues that Indiana’s eviction court system is rigged, with landlords’ rights enshrined in the system. Monroe County established a pre-eviction diversion program to slow down the eviction process and provide more time for rental assistance to reach tenants. The program lasted one week before the Indiana Office of Court Services for the Supreme Court suggested it would not make it a mandatory program.


With nearly 10,000 Iowans at risk of eviction in the next two months, Axios Des Moines reports Iowa could lose millions of dollars in federal emergency rental assistance (ERA) since the state has disbursed less than 10% of the funds.


Bangor Daily News and other small states say the federal government’s emergency rental assistance (ERA) recapture and reallocation plan is unfair. ERA grantees in states with smaller populations say their slow spending pace does not reflect a lack of need; instead, the initial ERA allocations provided too much money for small states to spend quickly.


State and local governments in Maryland distributed $32.3 million in federal emergency rental assistance (ERA1) funding in August. By the end of August, Maryland had spent less than half of its total ERA1 allocation. Under Treasury’s reallocation guidance, ERA grantees in Maryland will have the opportunity to work with federal officials before reallocations take place.


Starting October 12, Minnesotans must apply for emergency rental assistance (ERA) to be protected from eviction. All lease terminations and eviction protections are lifted unless tenants are eligible for rental assistance and file an application. Under the law, tenants with pending ERA applications cannot be evicted for nonpayment until June 1, 2022.

Tenants in need of assistance can apply for aid from RentHelpMN. The Minneapolis City Council has approved legal assistance for low-income residents going through the eviction process. Minnesota Housing has staff available at many courts to help renters prove their application status.

Axios Twin Cities reports another wave of Minnesotans behind on rent could face evictions since starting October 12, landlords can file to evict tenants who are behind on rent but haven’t applied to the state’s rental assistance program. The slow distribution of federal ERA funds is frustrating renters and landlords. As of October 7, Minnesota had distributed ERA for about 30% of the roughly 49,000 applications via the RentHelpMN program.

New Jersey

Approximately one-third of the more than $6 billion New Jersey received through the American Rescue Plan Act’s State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund has been allocated by Governor Phil Murphy and lawmakers for specific purposes, including $500 million for rental assistance and $250 million for utility assistance. The state is currently deciding whether to spend the money now or slowly dole it out until 2024. Governor Phil Murphy has been holding virtual events to collect input on how to invest in the state’s low-income communities.

North Carolina

The Greensboro Housing Coalition is seeing an increase in the number of people seeking utility assistance. Substandard housing is partially to blame for the increase in need. The coalition is receiving about 1,400 calls for assistance each week.

Rhode Island

Governor Dan McKee announced on October 5 that $50 million in federal rental assistance has been approved in Rhode Island, with nearly 4,600 rental households receiving aid.

South Carolina

Charleston County temporarily stopped taking applications for rental assistance on October 7 after distributing nearly all available funds. The pause is meant to prevent a backlog of applications that exceeds the amount of available assistance. The county expects to resume accepting applications when it receives additional federal funds.


Evictions in Dallas have increase since the federal eviction moratorium was overturned. While federal rental assistance has helped keep many tenants in their homes, advocates fear a wave of evictions may occur when rental aid runs out.


King County’s Eviction Prevention and Rent Assistance Program is urging renters to apply for aid now, despite a backlog in applications. County officials hope to assist 12,000 households by the end of October when Washington state’s eviction moratorium bridge is set to expire. The program has helped more than 4,650 households, but the county has received over 18,000 applications for aid.

Washington, D.C.

The Washington Post reports more than $649 million in federal emergency rental assistance (ERA) funds were distributed to renters in the Washington area ahead of the September 30 federal deadline. That number accounts for nearly 60% of the more than $1.1 billion allocated to D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, and several of the states’ largest counties.