Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
HUD announced on March 4 that it is awarding over $2.4 million in “American Rescue Plan Act” funding to 11 HUD Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP) agencies to help combat housing discrimination related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A new resource, Emergency Housing Vouchers (EHV): A How-To Guide for Public Housing Agencies, is now available on the HUD Exchange. The guide is a helpful resource for public housing agencies (PHAs), Continuums of Care (CoCs), and Victim Services Providers (VSPs) striving to better to understand key components of the EHV program, including partnerships and referral processes, use-of-service fees, housing-search requirements, and applications of EHV waivers and alternative requirements.
New resources and information about the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) are now available on the HUD Exchange.
Department of the Treasury
The U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) released on March 8 monthly ERA spending data through January 31.
Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo traveled to Memphis, Tennessee, on March 8 to speak with the City of Memphis and Shelby County Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program about the impact of American Rescue Plan resources on Tennessee residents. In his remarks, Deputy Secretary Adeyemo emphasized that Treasury continues to urge states and localities to dedicate a portion of the money from the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to continue to fund rental assistance and other eviction prevention programs and to expand the availability of affordable housing.
Advocacy & Research
The Eviction Lab at Princeton University estimates that nationwide at least 1.36 million eviction cases were prevented in 2021. Last year, millions of renters avoided the threat of eviction thanks to expanded legal protections and new social safety net programs. The reduction in eviction filings varied between jurisdictions over the course of the year and depending on neighborhood demographics. Low-income and majority-Black neighborhoods that normally see disproportionate shares of eviction cases experienced the largest absolute reductions in filings. Read Eviction Lab’s latest blog post to learn more.
A report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), “Robust COVID Relief Achieved Historic Gains Against Poverty and Hardship, Bolstered Economy,” outlines the myriad ways innovative relief efforts shortened and prevented hardship during COVID-19. Many of these relief efforts were implemented for the first time, including Economic Impact Payments (EIPs), expanded unemployment insurance, the Child Tax Credit (CTC), an eviction moratorium, and a federally funded emergency rental assistance (ERA) program. These efforts resulted in the shortest-ever recession – lasting only two quarters – and a dramatic decrease in poverty, with eight million individuals moving above the poverty line in 2020.
State and Local News
Julie Gunnigle, an attorney who represents clients through the Arizona Poor People’s Campaign, says several of her clients have faced eviction while waiting for a response from Phoenix’s emergency rental assistance (ERA) program. “It’s a full-time job to apply for rental assistance in the city of Phoenix,” said Gunnigle. “The process is so bureaucratic, and it is so slow, that people are becoming unsheltered because of paperwork.”
The Los Angeles Housing Department announced on March 3 that California’s “Housing is Key” Rent Relief Program will stop accepting applications on March 31. Applications filed by the deadline will continue to be processed after March 31.
Pinellas County commissioners are considering making changes to the county’s emergency rental assistance (ERA) program to help renters in the City of St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg and Pinellas County received separate ERA funding from the “American Rescue Plan Act.” The city is nearly out of money, but the county has more funds left. If commissioners approve the resolution, the remaining money will go to families within St. Petersburg’s city limits.
Palm Beach County commissioners approved an additional $20 million for emergency rental assistance on March 8. Since March 2020, the county has distributed about $100 million in rental relief.
Collier County has allocated $7 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds to assist residents facing foreclosure and eviction or housing instability.
Governor Andy Beshear announced on March 8 that the City of Louisville will receive $27 million in additional emergency rental assistance (ERA) funds and the City of Lexington will receive an additional $11.7 million in ERA. Governor Beshear allocated funds from the commonwealth’s program to support each city’s ERA program. The funds must be spent by September 30, 2022.
Wicked Local reports that the Town of Arlington will spend about $930,000 in “American Rescue Plan Act” Fiscal Recovery Funds for its Tenant-Homeowner Assistance Fund, which will provide rental and mortgage assistance to households impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund will be open to all Arlington residents, regardless of income level. The town began accepting applications on March 4.
Governor Pete Ricketts continues to reject pleas from state senators and advocates to accept $120 million in federal emergency rental assistance (ERA) funds. All nine members of the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee sent a letter to Governor Ricketts urging him to apply for ERA by the March 31 deadline. The governor said on March 7, however, that he fails to see a “justification” for the state to apply for the emergency aid.
The Town of Brookhaven is reallocating nearly $1.5 million it had planned to spend on administering a federal emergency rental assistance (ERA) program for direct ERA payments. Brookhaven exhausted its $29 million allocation of ERA funding in mid-November 2021. The town’s decision to spend the remaining $1.49 million in ERA – initially allocated for administrative expenses – does not require state approval, and the funds will soon be available for rent relief.
Ohio officials hope that the $104 million in federal emergency rental assistance (ERA) that will be recaptured by the U.S. Department of the Treasury will be reallocated to cities and counties within Ohio. Cuyahoga County recently announced that it expects to receive an additional $50 million in ERA funds. Housing advocates assert that the state made it too difficult for renters to access ERA.
The City of Shawnee will use Community Development Block Grant-Coronavirus funds to provide rental and mortgage assistance for households impacted by COVID-19.
Of the 60,727 evictions filed since the start of the pandemic in Oklahoma, over 22,800 have been carried out, with nearly 7,000 of those evictions taking place since the federal eviction moratorium ended in August 2021. Community Cares Partners and Restore Hope Ministries – two organizations distributing rental relief – face a backlog of more than 25,000 applications.
Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) announced during a media briefing on March 7 that the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program (OERAP) portal will stop accepting new applications on March 14. Nearly $13 million in additional funds have been redirected to the program and will support an estimated 1,900 households. Application decisions will be made based upon an assessment of need rather than on a first-come, first-served basis.
Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo visited Memphis on March 8 to highlight the success of the City of Memphis and Shelby County Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program. “Ultimately, the resources of the [“American Rescue Plan Act”] were intended to make sure that we were able to unlock the potential of American communities to solve the challenges of the pandemic,” said Deputy Secretary Adeyemo. “That is exactly what has happened here in Memphis and Shelby County.”
Texas Housers is urging government officials in certain Texas cities and counties to act immediately before they lose $103 million in emergency rental assistance (ERA). Eleven counties and two cities are at risk of losing federal ERA funds if they do not act before March 31.
Travis County anticipates spending nearly $9.2 million in rental assistance between March 1 and September 30, 2022, with a projected capacity of assisting over 3,400 households. The rental assistance application window is expected to close in the coming days due to high demand and an overwhelming number of applications.
Seattle’s eviction moratorium expired on March 1, and service providers say the end of the moratorium has brought an uptick in calls for help. Tens of thousands of tenants have applied for emergency rental assistance, but local officials will run out of funds before serving all those in need. The Seattle Times outlines what tenants need to know about the end of the eviction moratorium and where they can find help.
Department of Housing and Urban Development