End Rental Arrears to Stop Evictions (ERASE) Project
Please join NLIHC in Washington, D.C., for our ERASE National Convening on October 17, 2022. The convening, “Emergency Rental Assistance: A Path to a Permanent Program,” will provide attendees the opportunity to share lessons learned from the implementation of emergency rental assistance (ERA); understand the programmatic, policy, and system changes needed at the local, state, and federal levels to ensure sustainability and meet the needs of all renters; and develop a blueprint for advancing ERA and tenant protections into the future. For more information, please contact Tori Bourret at [email protected].
Department of the Treasury
Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo convened a roundtable with local and tribal governments on August 3 to discuss how they are deploying State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) to effectively serve communities of color and marginalized communities. Learn more here.
The Associated Press reports that eviction filings across the country have steadily risen in recent months and are approaching or surpassing pre-pandemic levels in many cities and states. Federal emergency rental assistance (ERA) – which has helped keep millions housed during the pandemic – has been expended in many jurisdictions and is increasingly rejected by landlords. Housing advocates are urging lawmakers to enact robust renter protections and create a permanent emergency rental assistance program. The NLIHC-supported “Eviction Crisis Act” and “Stable Families Act” would create a permanent rental assistance program funded at $3 billion annually. The article cites NLIHC’s Out of Reach report and ERA tracking efforts.
NPR reports that despite COVID-19 eviction protections and emergency rental assistance, racial disparities in evictions have persisted. Peter Hepburn of Princeton University’s Eviction Lab notes that eviction protections enacted during the pandemic have varied widely by state, meaning that where one lives has a profound impact on how well one is protected from eviction.
According to Forbes, a survey conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, NPR, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that minority communities have been disproportionately harmed by the spike in consumer prices and housing costs. High percentages of Black, Latino, and Native American families reported serious financial problems and even threats of eviction. “Unless some sort of emergency help is provided, a substantial number of minority populations are going to be evicted over the next year,” said Robert J. Blendon, co-director of the survey.
State and Local News
After significant delays in distributing federal emergency rental assistance (ERA), housing advocates assert that Alabama has improved its distribution of ERA. According to Jay Williams from the Low-Income Housing Coalition of Alabama, the state implemented programmatic changes and increased the visibility of the program. While the program has improved, Alabama has distributed less than half of the federal ERA funds it received.
Arizona News reports that eviction filings in Maricopa County, Arizona’s largest county, hit a 13-year high in July, with more than 6,400 evictions filed. July marks the second month in a row that eviction filings in Maricopa County surpassed pre-pandemic levels. Inflation and the lack of affordable homes have directly impacted the number of people facing eviction.
The California Globe reports that the Los Angeles City Council voted 11-1 on July 27 to extend the city’s eviction moratorium – one of the last COVID-19-era eviction moratoriums in the state. Smaller “mom and pop” landlords criticized the decision, arguing that the relief is financially hurting them, forcing others to sell their properties, and leaving room for private owners and/or equity firms to purchase properties. The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) urged lawmakers to extend the eviction moratorium due to the ongoing pandemic and concerns about a potential surge in evictions.
The number of evictions filed in Denver in June was about 24% higher than it was three years ago. “I really think this is the tip of the iceberg,” said Shannon MacKenzie, executive director of the Colorado Poverty Law Project. “Our numbers of evictions are increasing every month at an astonishing rate, and I just don’t see that abating any time soon.”
One of the largest homeless service providers in central Florida is warning of a potential crisis, as an increasing number of people are becoming homeless and seeking shelter. “With the uptick of evictions, the lack of affordable housing in this community, and the unprecedented increase in rents, it is a trifecta for potential chaos,” said Allison Krall, president and CEO of the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida.
Some Floridians who were approved for emergency rental assistance (ERA) through the Our Florida program have been waiting months to receive the assistance, and some fear they will be evicted before the funds arrive.
A new report from the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy found that emergency rental assistance (ERA) distribution in Idaho disproportionately benefited families with higher incomes compared to national distribution trends in 2021, reports the Idaho Press. Idaho was among the bottom five states for distributing assistance to renters earning less than 30% of the area median income (AMI), suggesting that many renters with the greatest needs in Idaho may not have received assistance in 2021. Kendra Knighten of the Idaho Asset Building Network notes that ERA programs are most effective when outreach efforts and application processes are visible and accessible to all eligible households.
United Way of Central Maryland is seeing a growing demand for housing assistance as evictions resume. Statewide eviction protections were lifted last year, but courts have been backlogged from anywhere from three to eight months. The increase in eviction cases is putting more demand on United Way’s Strategic Targeted Eviction Prevention Program.
As of August 4, approximately $30 million in emergency rental assistance (ERA) funds was available through the Montgomery County COVID-19 Rent Relief Program. The county has distributed about $79 million in rent relief to about 10,600 households since the program launched in April 2020.
According to MPR News, housing advocates in Hennepin County fear that rising eviction rates following the expiration of eviction protections and dwindling emergency rental assistance (ERA) funds could reverse homelessness prevention efforts achieved throughout the pandemic. Evictions averaged 600 per week statewide in June 2022 – a rate that is 73% higher than pre-pandemic levels. Most of those eviction filings were in Hennepin County, and Black and Indigenous families with children are most affected by the eviction crisis. Housing advocates contend that they need more federal and state funds to support rental assistance programs.
At the direction of Governor Tate Reeves, the Mississippi Home Corporation will close Mississippi’s emergency rental assistance (ERA) program and return $130 in federal ERA funds. The program stopped accepting new applications on August 15. The governor claims that the ERA program, which has helped millions of families avoid eviction throughout the pandemic, “encourage[s] people to stay out of the workforce.” NBC News notes that Governor Reeve’s decision to end the program comes as rental prices in Mississippi surge and a large percentage of people behind on their rent or mortgage report being at risk of losing their homes in the next two months.
As of August 5, the Missouri State Assistance for Housing Relief (SAFHR) Program has distributed over $314 million in federal emergency rental assistance to Missourians.
Nevada Appeal reports that the Siegel Group, a Las Vegas-based corporate owner of thousands of rental properties across the country, is being investigated concerning whether it improperly evicted tenants during the pandemic while receiving millions of federal dollars to keep people housed. According to a report from the U.S. House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, Siegel engaged in egregious and potentially unlawful eviction practices even while it received at least $5.5 million in federal assistance to offset pandemic costs and tenant rental arrears.
According to the Oklahoman, residents have until August 31 to apply for emergency rental assistance (ERA). With over 30,000 applications being processed and more expected to be submitted before the deadline, the need for assistance will likely exceed available funding. Oklahoma County landlords continue to file evictions at above-average rates, creating concern among advocates and community members about a rise in evictions and homelessness.
Street Roots reports that tenants in Oregon are struggling to keep up with skyrocketing rents as COVID-19 emergency rental assistance and eviction protections end. Eviction rates are steadily increasing, and advocates predict that they will continue to rise and surpass pre-pandemic levels. Advocates anticipate two large waves of evictions: in October, when all emergency eviction protections expire, and in January, when landlords are allowed to increase rents.
Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) closed the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program on August 12. New applications will not be accepted, but tenants with existing applications in the system who submitted complete applications by August 12 will continue to be processed as long as funds remain available. OHCS has paid out over $390 million in emergency rental assistance to 60,829 households. The funds have helped an estimated 130,000 Oregonians remain in their homes during the pandemic.
According to the Morning Call, emergency rental assistance (ERA) is running out in Lehigh County, which housing advocates fear could lead to a rise in evictions. Tenants and landlords must submit applications for the Lehigh County ERA program by August 31. The program has helped about 4,500 households since it launched in April 2021. Lehigh County ranked fourth among Pennsylvania counties for the most evictions filed in 2021.
As Virginia’s emergency rental assistance (ERA) program ends, eviction cases are on the rise. The growing number of eviction filings signals the need for ongoing rental assistance and highlights the lack of affordable housing across Virginia.