Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
The CDC on January 4 released updated guidance on COVID-19 quarantine and isolation protocols, including for high-risk congregate settings, such as homeless shelters, which have high risk of secondary transmission. Learn more about the updated CDC guidance for shelter residents and staff from the National Alliance to End Homelessness.
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
HUD issued a memorandum on December 30 explaining the availability of waivers for regulatory requirements associated with several Community Planning and Development (CPD) grant programs to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and facilitate assistance to eligible communities and households economically impacted by COVID-19. The memorandum also addresses program-specific waivers for the following CPD programs, including Continuum of Care (CoC), Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP), Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) Program, and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA). Read the CPD Memo.
U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH)
USICH interviewed several communities about how they are implementing American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding for emergency rental assistance (ERA), emergency housing vouchers (EHV), and health centers. The resulting guidance, “Getting It Done: The American Rescue Plan Way,” seeks to help other communities maximize the impact of ARPA funding to prevent and end homelessness. Read USICH’s press release and the guidance.
Advocacy and Research
The Terner Center for Housing Innovation released a report in December 2021, Addressing Homelessness Through Hotel Conversions, which presents the results of an analysis of 13 hotel/motel acquisition projects, with a focus on conversions aimed at providing housing for people experiencing homelessness.
According to the latest data from the Eviction Lab, evictions are increasing in most of the 31 cities and six states where it collects data. The upsurge in cases shows the limits of federal emergency rental assistance (ERA) in areas where distribution is lagging and tenant protections are weak.
State and Local News
A list of state and local emergency rental assistance programs is available here from NLIHC.
A Phoenix real estate attorney was put on probation in December 2021 for filing eviction cases against renters who were protected by the federal CARES Act eviction moratorium. The Arizona Republic says the attorney is the first to be disciplined following the newspaper’s 2020 investigation, which found 900 evictions were filed against Maricopa County renters who should have been protected by the CARES Act.
Forty-seven people – more than half of the unhoused residents – tested positive for COVID-19 at a San Francisco navigation center at the end of December. There was a significant delay in transporting the large group of COVID-positive residents off the premises and into isolation-and-quarantine hotels. At the end of December, vaccination rates among people experiencing homelessness in San Francisco were around 65%.
The Fresno Bee reports at least 1,138 households were evicted across three central San Joaquin Valley counties during the 18-month statewide eviction moratorium. Not all evictions result in lockouts, and tenants often leave before an eviction is carried out in court, meaning the number of evictions during this period is likely much higher.
Thousands of renters in South Florida face eviction as property owners seek to sell while the housing market is hot. One renter who applied for and received rental assistance from Our Florida was evicted after his landlord sold the property but kept the rental assistance funds. The new landlord then provided the tenant a 3-day eviction notice.
The Washington Post reports that management of the Brooks Crossing apartments – a 224-unit complex in the Atlanta area – has filed 427 evictions against its tenants since April 2020. The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis announced in July 2020 an investigation into why Brooks Crossing’s management company, the Florida-based Ventron Management, and several other large real estate firms pursued evictions despite federal efforts, including the federal eviction moratoriums. While the CARES Act eviction moratorium was in effect, Ventron filed 99 evictions against tenants of Brooks Crossing.
Dekalb County saw 945 evictions filed from December 12-18 – the steepest increase in eviction filings in the five-county Atlanta area. The county was granted an additional $14.8 million in federal emergency rental assistance (ERA) funds to reopen the Tenant Landlord Assistance Coalition. When the program stopped accepting applications last month, there were about 5,700 outstanding applications.
The Chicago Tribune reports that some Chicago renters are being evicted or threatened with eviction despite receiving assistance from Illinois’ emergency rental assistance (ERA) program. A member of Únete La Villita, a neighborhood group that has helped about 50 tenants in Little Village apply for rental assistance through the City of Chicago, said many landlords filed for evictions or declined to renew leases after receiving ERA payments.
The Illinois Housing Development Authority created a video illustrating the application process for tenants and landlords interested in applying for up to $25,000 in ERA through the second round of the Illinois Rental Payment Program (ILRPP2). Watch the video on YouTube.
More than $100 million in emergency rental assistance (ERA) funds have been distributed to 17,000 households across Maine. Average monthly eviction filings in Maine are lower than pre-pandemic averages, suggesting that ERA has been successful in keeping families in their homes.
Baltimore Renters United called on Sheriff John Anderson, Mayor Brandon Scott, and Administrative Judge Weinstein to suspend evictions immediately in Baltimore City to slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives. There are 352 evictions scheduled for January 3-7.
While Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency for Maryland on January 4, he did not reinstate eviction protections. Courts recently scaled back their operations due to the omicron surge, but Maryland housing advocates say scheduled evictions are still proceeding. The National Equity Atlas estimates 111,000 renter households in Maryland are behind on rent. The tool estimates that 79% of Maryland tenants behind on rent are people of color.
New regulations on Massachusetts’ emergency rental assistance (ERA) funds went into effect on January 1, prompting housing advocates to demand legislators intervene to prevent displacing renters. The Baker administration altered ERA eligibility by requiring applicants to have at least one month of rental arrears before they qualify for aid. Additionally, recipients seeking to recertify their benefits will need to fall one month behind on rent and then reapply through the same central application they first used. Kelly Turley of the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless says the administration moved forward with these changes without consulting lawmakers or asking for additional ERA funds – an unnecessary move that is disruptive to both tenants and landlords.
Nebraska’s statewide Tenant Assistance Program, a collaboration of 20 programs that provide representation for tenants facing eviction, has reduced immediate eviction judgments from 90% to less than 2%.
With New Jersey’s eviction moratorium ending on January 1, landlords are now able to evict tenants for nonpayment of rent. Judges faced a backlog of nearly 52,000 landlord-tenant cases as of the end of November.
According to a Searchlight New Mexico analysis, New Mexico landlords sought to evict at least 191 tenants whose rental applications were pending between April and November 2021. In each case, the eviction was filed after the tenant applied for rental assistance but before the funds were distributed.
A new court-based program to help New Mexico tenants behind on their rent and provide landlords with an alternative to eviction will launch in February. The Eviction Prevention and Diversion Program will start in the Ninth Judicial District of Curry and Roosevelt counties on February 1 and expand statewide in March.
The New York Times reports that inside one Brooklyn homeless shelter, 11 women who tested positive for COVID-19 were crowded into a small room with just a few chairs and several mattresses on the floor. While there are hundreds of vacant beds in isolation units and quarantine rooms in hotels, the women were told none were available.
Housing advocates and tenants are bracing for a “deluge” of eviction cases when New York State’s eviction moratorium expires on January 15. Governor Kathy Hochul has not signaled that she will extend the eviction moratorium.
Portland State University researchers released a report, “Oregon’s Safe Harbor for Tenants: Rocky Shoals in Eviction Diversion,” evaluating Oregon’s eviction diversion program implemented in July 2021. In the first 90 days of the policy, the authors found mixed results for tenants. The authors suggest that the policy could be improved by understanding how information, communication, and power affect each stage of eviction proceedings.
Marketplace reports officials in Montgomery County, Texas, voted in late November to return $7 million in federal emergency rental assistance (ERA) funds – nearly one-third of the county’s allocation. The county had spent less than 2% of its allocation. “We are seeing some states and localities suggest or outright refuse to accept additional funds, saying there is no remaining need when there clearly is,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel.
A Travis County justice of the peace extended eviction protections for renters, providing more time for them to seek rental assistance. Precinct 5 Justice of the Peace Nick Chu’s new order will halt eviction trials for nonpayment of rent for 30 days to allow Travis County renters to apply for rental assistance, consult a pro bono attorney through a justice of the peace court program, and negotiate a settlement.
Lone Star Legal Aid says eviction cases in Harris County are rising. Texas Rent Relief applications are closed, with the website reporting 95% of nearly $2 billion in federal rental assistance has been paid out. The Houston-Harris County Emergency Rental Assistance Program says it has limited funds remaining.
The Wyoming Department of Family Services has distributed just $14.5 million of the $325 million in federal emergency rental assistance funds. As of late December, 9,019 applications have been submitted, and 5,670 have been paid.
Department of Housing and Urban Development
- CPD Memo: Availability of Additional Waivers for CPD Grant Programs to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 and Mitigate Economic Impacts Caused by COVID-19 – December 30, 2021
Department of Treasury