With rents now reaching record highs – national median rents are up 21% from the start of the pandemic – CNN examines how renters who made it through the worst of the pandemic with federal rental assistance and eviction protections may be struggling now.
Shelterforce highlights NLIHC’s new report and resources on how Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) are being used for affordable housing and homelessness prevention and services.
Bloomberg Law reports that emergency rental assistance (ERA) programs across the country are closing as federal aid dries up, leaving states scrambling to prevent evictions amid rapidly rising rent prices and a severe shortage of affordable housing. At least 150 ERA programs are closing or no longer accepting applications. “There is not enough emergency rental assistance to meet the need of all the low-income renters in the country,” said Sarah Gallagher, the ERASE (End Rental Arrears to Stop Evictions) senior project director at NLIHC. “And even though there was a historic amount of investment, unfortunately, due to increasing housing costs, lack of affordable housing stock, there is the need for permanent solutions.”
Business Insider reports that higher mortgage rights are driving rental demand and worsening housing affordability. Rent-price growth will remain high in the coming months, causing ongoing affordability problems for renters. Eviction filing rates are rising across the country as inflation increases the costs of living – including housing – and COVID-19 federal emergency rental assistance funds run out. Experts say that in some cities, eviction filing rates are reaching 150-200% of pre-pandemic averages.
State and Local News
The Fresno eviction moratorium ended on June 9 when the city council voted 6-0 to repeal the emergency orders that have been in effect for more than two years. The end of the moratorium means that landlords can evict tenants for nonpayment of rent for rent due after June 9. A landlord cannot evict a tenant who owes back rent accrued before June 9 if the tenant has communicated COVID-19 hardship prior to June 10. Renters will have until February 1, 2023, to pay the rent debt if they have notified their landlords.
According to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, the Sarasota County Emergency Rental Assistance Program has distributed more than $11 million in aid. The program has helped 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 Sarasota County ERA applicants, more than 90% of respondents said receiving the funds prevented an eviction or loss of their home.
As rents continue to rise in Indiana and federal emergency rental assistance begins to dry up, marginalized communities – including Black and Indigenous people and people of color, families with children, people with disabilities, and other low-income renters – will be disproportionately harmed. According to U.S. Census Data, Black and Latino families with children and low-income households said they were not confident they could make next month’s rent as of April 2022. The emergency rental assistance program in Allen County, which serves Fort Wayne, closed in May. Nearly 32% of eviction filings in Allen County in May impacted Black and Latino households, according to data from the Eviction Lab.
Youth homelessness is on the rise in Maine amidst the state’s shortage of affordable housing and changes to the state’s emergency rental assistance program. As of June 1, the Maine State Housing Authority changed its eligibility standards for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, impacting as many as 96 households. A social worker with the Westbrook School Department knows of 25 students affected by the ERA program changes.
Baltimore County will receive $17 million in rental assistance funding from Maryland’s allocation of federal Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program funds. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Baltimore County has invested more than $115 million in housing stability initiatives and has helped 5,500 families. The additional funds are expected to assist at least 1,500 households in need. Of the $17 million in funding, $11 million will be allocated to the United Way of Central Maryland to continue the county’s innovative STEP program, and the remaining $6 million will be distributed through the County’s Eviction Prevention Program.
The Michigan State Housing Development Authority recently announced it will soon have enough applications to its COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA) program to use all available funds. Applications for the CERA program will be accepted through June 30.
Detroit city officials are urging renters to apply to the CERA program before the June 30 deadline. Mayor Mike Duggan laid out a three-part Immediate Intervention Plan on June 16 to help Detroiters who may still face eviction. The three-part plan includes free legal aid, emergency shelter assistance, and immediate job placement.
The Star Tribune reports that eviction filings in Minnesota are soaring. Statewide eviction filings in April were nearly 60% higher than the pre-pandemic average for that month.
The Kansas City Star, citing data from Eviction Lab, highlights that eviction filings in Kansas City, Missouri, have risen to pre-pandemic levels. An attorney who spoke to the Star says that completed evictions, however, have not been rising as rapidly as filings due to federal rental assistance.
The Department of Commerce announced on June 7 that Montana Housing’s Emergency Rental Assistance program is expanding its eligibility requirements. Emergency rental assistance (ERA2) funds are now available for anyone who experienced hardship during the pandemic, rather than due to the pandemic. Assistance is now available for up to 18 months, rather than 15 months. Since the program’s launch in April 2021, the department has approved more than 7,800 applications and distributed nearly $61 million to assist eligible Montanans who are struggling to make ends meet. Montana initially received $200 million in the first round of ERA. The U.S. Department of the Treasury has asked Montana to return about $98 million of those funds based on the state’s expenditures.
Eviction filings in New Jersey are rising to nearly pre-pandemic levels as county courts sift through tens of thousands of cases halted during the pandemic. The need for rental assistance is still dire, and about 122,000 people remain on the state’s waiting list for its lottery rental assistance program.
Evictions are climbing in New York City, and residents are concerned they will be priced out of their homes and left with few options on where they will live. Rents in New York City have increased on average by 30% in the past year. Democratic State Senator Julia Salazar, who represents Brooklyn, says constituents are calling her office saying their landlords are increasing their rent by hundreds of dollars per month.
Some North Dakota advocacy groups are renewing calls for the state to improve its emergency rental assistance program. The North Dakota Coalition for Homeless People reports hearing stories about payment delays that are prompting eviction proceedings in some cases.
According to Tulsa World, with the federal eviction moratorium no longer in effect, Tulsa landlords filed more than 3,200 evictions in the first four months of 2022 – nearly 20% more cases than during the same period last year. While Tulsa landlords are filing more evictions this year, they are not evicting as many people, suggesting that the city’s efforts to provide free legal aid to tenants facing eviction are successfully keeping renters in their homes.
More COVID-era protections for Oregon renters will expire soon. Renters across Oregon will be at risk of eviction for nonpayment of rent at the end of June if they have not submitted to their landlord proof of applying for rental assistance from the state under the Safe Harbor laws extended last year. The Safe Harbor protections expire altogether at the end of September. The Community Alliance of Tenants (CAT), a tenants’ rights organization, is concerned about a potential surge of evictions across the state, particularly within the Latino community in Southern Oregon. Last year’s Almeda Fire wiped out much of the affordable housing in the Rogue Valley.
The expiration of renters’ protections in Virginia and dwindling federal emergency rental assistance funds are sparking fears of an increase in evictions in the coming months. According to new RVA Eviction Lab data, eviction filings and judgments in Virginia have decreased approximately 350% from the first quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2022 due to a coordinated and rapid disbursal of federal rent relief funding. However, these funds have largely expired, and Virginia’s eviction protections will end on June 30. The RVA Eviction Lab’s 2022 first-quarter report cited data from a U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey of Virginians not caught up on rent, estimating that renters in about 58% of Virginia households fear eviction in the next two months, up from 28% in the fourth quarter of 2021. Ninety-one percent of respondents have no or little confidence in their ability to pay the next month’s rent.
Local experts warn that evictions may rise in Norfolk when some eviction protections expire on June 30.
According to Crosscut, Yakima County lost more than $1 million in federal emergency rental assistance (ERA) funds after missing the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s expenditure deadlines, making it the only Washington county to have ERA funds recaptured. Local advocates and legal aid attorneys say bureaucratic roadblocks cost the county much-needed resources to keep Yakima tenants in their homes.
Department of Housing and Urban Development
- Notice CPD-22-09: Expedited Regulatory Waivers for the Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG), Continuum of Care (CoC), Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP), and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) Programs – June 15
- COVID-19 Homeless System Response: ESG-CV Notice CPD-22-06 Quick Reference Guide – June 2022
- COVID-19 Homeless System Response: Protecting the Health and Wellbeing of People in Encampments and Other People Who Access Public Spaces – June 2022
- COVID-19 Homeless System Response: Paying People with Lived Experience and Expertise – June 2022
- COVID-19 Homeless System Response: Non-HMIS Data – June 2022