Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
HUD announced the creation of a new Homelessness and Infectious Disease Ask a Question (AAQ) desk, which assists homeless assistance providers, Continuums of Care (CoCs), and other partners with questions about preventing, mitigating, and responding to infectious diseases impacting people experiencing homelessness in their communities. The AAQ desk is staffed by Technical Assistance (TA) providers from HUD’s disaster response team who are well-versed in best practices for infectious disease planning, mitigation, and response in homeless response systems.
Department of the Treasury
Treasury added an Addendum to Reallocation Guidance for Tribal Governments on June 1.
CBS News reports on an analysis from a government watchdog group, Accountable.US, which found that many corporate landlords’ profits surged in 2021. Property owners who opposed the federal eviction moratorium claimed the ban would result in billions of dollars in losses for them. The analysis finds, however, that the largest publicly traded property group in the U.S. saw its combined earnings surge more than 50% in 2021 to nearly $5 billion. During that period, its top executives received raises of more than 20%.
State and Local News
About 20 tenants’ rights advocates protested outside of the Governor’s Mansion in Little Rock on May 26 to demand that Governor Asa Hutchinson stop refusing federal emergency rental assistance (ERA) funds. Arkansas Renters United organized the protest after the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette published data on May 22 showing that 2,855 evictions were filed across Arkansas from January 1 to May 20 – the most evictions filed over that time period in the last five years.
Governor Gavin Newsom announced on May 26 that California’s state and local rent relief programs have distributed over $5 billion in assistance to more than 1.2 million Californians. Governor Newsom’s “California Blueprint May Revision” proposes an additional $2.7 billion in emergency rental assistance for eligible applicants who applied through March 31, creating a total of $8.1 billion in investments.
CBS News reports that California has been slow to process emergency rental assistance (ERA) applications and that now thousands of Californians are at risk of eviction. A growing number of tenants who fit the income eligibility requirements for ERA are being denied due to problems with their paperwork. An analysis of state data estimates that 45,000 applicants will not have their claims processed by the time the eviction moratorium ends on June 30. Housing advocates are urging officials to reopen the rental assistance program and keep the eviction moratorium in place until officials can eliminate the backlog of ERA applications.
The Denver Finance and Governance Committee moved a resolution on May 24 extending the city’s use of 140 rooms at a hotel for high-risk people experiencing homelessness to the full council for approval. The city began providing shelter at the start of the pandemic, and given the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases, the city hopes to continue providing shelters to unhoused individuals. The resolution will extend the Emergency Occupancy Agreement with the hotel for an additional six months through the end of 2022.
Spectrum News reports that more than a year after receiving nearly $16 million in federal emergency rental assistance (ERA) funds, Orange County has yet to distribute any of the aid. As of March 31, five of Central Florida’s eight ERA programs had fallen short of the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s (Treasury) 20% spending threshold, putting their funds at risk of reallocation. Per an April 28 internal memo, Orange County had yet to complete its plan for distributing ERA2 to residents, meaning it stood to lose $23 million in funds. According to the University of Florida’s Shimberg Center for Housing Studies, evictions in Orange County have now surpassed pre-pandemic levels by nearly 10%.
The Pinellas County emergency rental assistance (ERA) program distributed over $48 million and assisted over 5,400 households since it was launched in March 2021. The county stopped accepting new applications on May 26. While the county has $4.4 million in federal ERA remaining, it is still processing about 2,000 applications and anticipates exhausting its funding before processing is complete.
The Sarasota County Emergency Rental Assistance Program has distributed more than $11 million in rent and utility assistance over the last year. The program has assisted 900 households with a total of 8,400 months of rent and 3,500 months of utility payments. In an ongoing survey given to funded ERAP applicants, over 90% of respondents said receiving Sarasota County ERAP funding prevented an eviction or loss of their home and 85% of respondents said that receiving rental assistance allowed them to pay other critical bills.
As rents increase across the state, some South Georgia residents are experiencing delays in receiving rental assistance. The South Georgia Partnership to End Homelessness is overwhelmed with people seeking help with filing for assistance with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. Unlike in many metro areas, rental assistance in South Georgia is processed through the backlogged state system – not through a city or county agency – leading to delays and evictions.
DeKalb County announced on June 7 that it has received an additional $25 million in federal emergency rental assistance funds, which will allow the county to reopen applications for its Tenant-Landlord Assistance Program.
The Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition released a report finding that low rates of emergency rental assistance distribution, poor demographic data reporting, and inequitable results combined with ongoing high eviction filing rates across the state will leave Hoosier households vulnerable to eviction. The policy brief urges Indiana’s courts and state, local, and federal policymakers to commit to an “all of the above” housing stability strategy. Fox 59 reports on the coalition’s report.
Allen County was selected for the National Center for State Courts’ Eviction Diversion Initiative and will receive a $164,000 grant to reduce evictions in Fort Wayne. The Allen County Superior Court will use the grant to hire dedicated staff to help create different strategies for preventing evictions. “Building a dedicated Eviction Diversion Initiative will benefit tenants and landlords, keep more people in their homes, and diminish the profound impact on lives that can result from a loss of housing,” said Allen Superior Court Chief Judge Jennifer DeGroote.
The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that as eviction filings in Louisville rise to pre-pandemic levels, city officials say it is more important than ever to continue the Right to Counsel initiative launched in April 2021. While COVID-19-related eviction protections helped lower eviction filings in Jefferson County over the last two years, state data indicate that filings in 2022 are on par with those in 2019. Since Louisville launched the Right to Counsel program, legal aid attorneys have represented more than 700 families in court. The program was funded through $400,000 in federal American Rescue Plan dollars in its first year and is expected to receive the same amount in the next budget.
New Orleans Public Radio reports that as eviction rates rise in New Orleans, renters facing eviction can now access free legal representation. The city is seeing eviction filing rates on par with 2019 – around 470 per month so far this year. New Orleans joins several other cities that have enacted right-to-counsel programs during the pandemic, including Baltimore, Louisville, and Seattle, according to NLIHC’s report on tenant protections.
In response to the recent rent increases imposed by the new owners of Redbank Village Apartments, the South Portland City Council unanimously approved a six-month emergency ordinance on June 7 that immediately imposed an eviction moratorium and a 10% cap on residential rent increases through November. In recent weeks, JRK Property Holdings of Los Angeles raised rents as much as $598 per month and moved to evict tenants in the 500-unit Redbank Village complex, some of whom receive rent subsidies through the South Portland Housing Authority and other agencies.
WBUR examines how hotel-based homeless shelters changed lives during the pandemic and highlights efforts to make the non-congregate model the standard for homeless shelters in Massachusetts. According to the Massachusetts Housing & Shelter Alliance, approximately 1,000 hotel and motel beds have been leased as non-congregate shelter space during the pandemic. About 600 are still in use, paid for with state and federal funds. City officials examined data over a 22-month period that ended in April and found that 46% of people who left local hotel shelters did so to enter permanent housing. By contrast, just 16% of people who stopped staying at the traditional adult homeless shelters in the area left them to enter permanent housing. State Representative Natalie Higgins sponsored a bill that would transition the state away from congregate homeless shelters within five years.
As COVID-19-related housing aid comes to an end in Minnesota – and with no increase in shelter space or available affordable housing – advocates are concerned that the Twin Cities will see a significant rise in the number of people experiencing homelessness. Federal housing and homelessness resources, combined with state and federal eviction moratoriums, led to a significant drop in the number of people accessing services from Twin Cities shelters during the pandemic. Those same shelters, however, are starting to see an uptick in need again.
The Nevada Independent reports that Nevada is among the top-ranked states for distributing federal emergency rental assistance (ERA). Data released by the U.S. Department of the Treasury shows that as of March 31, Nevada had distributed about $171 million, or 91%, of the federal ERA funds it received through the first round of Treasury’s ERA program (ERA1). Even so, judges and housing advocates warn that eviction cases are increasing across the state and urge officials to implement eviction diversion measures and clarify convoluted eviction proceedings. Nevada has expended about $43.3 million, or about 27%, of its second round of ERA.
Somerset County distributed $9 million in emergency rental and utility assistance to more than 2,000 residents in 877 households. The county approved up to $1.6 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds to supplement the $7.7 million from the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s (Treasury) Emergency Rental Assistance Program. Somerset County expanded awareness of the emergency rental assistance program (ERAP) by hiring six ERAP Educators to provide information and application assistance in libraries throughout the county.
As of May 31, the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program has paid out $363 million in emergency assistance to over 55,650 households. The program is ahead of schedule to meet the deadlines established by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and is on track to obligate by the end of June the $100 million allocated by the Oregon Legislature during the December 2021 Special Session.
According to Oregon Live, data from the Oregon Law Center show that eviction filings in Oregon continue to increase steadily, creeping closer to pre-pandemic monthly averages. Between 50% and 60% of evictions for each of the past four months have been due to nonpayment of rent, and about half of the nonpayment cases the Oregon Law Center handles end in renters being evicted. At the same time, about 15,200 applications for emergency rental assistance are still being processed.
The Metropolitan Action Commission will close its HOPE rental assistance portal to new applications on June 30. Beginning on July 1, the Tennessee Housing Development Agency will expand its portal to allow Davidson County residents still experiencing the impact of COVID-19 to apply for rental help. As of May, Metro Action has distributed over $56 million to 6,784 households. Metro Action anticipates that the current applications and any new applications it receives in the month of June will result in the obligation of the remaining funds allotted to the city.
Evictions are on the rise across North Texas as skyrocketing rents and inflation squeeze family budgets. According to the Eviction Lab, Texas cities are among those in the nation with the highest number of filings in just the last week. Between Dallas, Houston, and Fort Worth, nearly 3,000 evictions have been filed in the past seven days. The North Texas Eviction Project reports that 86,000 evictions have been filed since January 2021 across Dallas, Tarrant, Denton, and Collin counties. More than 1,110 families were impacted by evictions in the past week. Experts warn that evictions will likely continue to increase as rental assistance aid dwindles and inflation makes it more difficult for households to afford rent.
The Seattle Medium reports that while King County’s Eviction Prevention and Rent Assistance Program (EPRAP) was slow to ramp up, data indicate that the program worked as intended and allowed thousands of households to stay in their homes during the pandemic. Over 75% of those who received assistance through EPRAP 2.0 were people of color. However, the risk of eviction is growing for many Seattle residents as the county wraps up its program due to dwindling state and federal rental assistance funds. More than 7,800 eligible households who applied to EPRAP 2.0 likely will not receive aid due to the lack of funds.
The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) announced on June 1 that it has received a $10 million grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation to strengthen eviction diversion efforts in state courts and improve housing stability. Courts in the District of Columbia and eight states are the beneficiaries of the Wells Fargo Foundation grant and NCSC’s Eviction Diversion Initiative. “This is such a tremendous opportunity to improve upon what we have already built over the course of the global pandemic,” said D.C. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby.
Department of Housing and Urban Development