Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
HUD released a policy brief on the relationship between HOME Investment Partnerships-American Rescue Plan Program (HOME-ARP) funding and the "Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970" (URA). Read the brief here.
A research brief from the Research Institute at the National Alliance to End Homelessness explores the progress and challenges faced by Continuums of Care (CoCs)and public housing authorities (PHAs) in putting Emergency Housing Vouchers to use, as well as the strategies being used to overcome setbacks. The experiences of CoCs and PHAs could inform the efforts of other communities and help shape current and future policy. Read the brief here.
Soledad O’Brien interviewed NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel on the April 24 episode of Matter of Fact. As eviction protections expire and emergency rental assistance funds run out, eviction filings are far surpassing pre-pandemic averages in an increasing number of cities. Diane highlighted short-term solutions to the current crisis, calling on states and localities to use other resources to supplement their rental assistance programs. She also discussed the urgent need for federal intervention in long-term solutions to make homes affordable to the lowest-income people.
CNN reports that utility shutoffs loom as moratoriums end and energy prices skyrocket. Consumer advocates are concerned about the looming wave of disconnections and are urging those with utility arrearages to reach out to utility companies, state agencies, and local nonprofits. More federal utility assistance is available for low-income Americans than ever before, but such assistance is still not enough to help everyone.
A Mother Jones analysis of census data and sheriff’s department lockout notices in five California counties from March 2020 to October 2021 found that although evictions occurred at lower rates during the pandemic, they continued to disproportionately impact residents of majority-Latino and majority-minority neighborhoods. The impacts are far greater when eviction threats and informal proceedings are taken into account.
State and Local News
Thousands of Arizona renters have been evicted – and will continue to be evicted – because the eviction process moves faster than cities and counties are delivering emergency rental assistance (ERA), reports the Arizona Republic. Arizona law allows landlords to initiate an eviction five days after a rent payment is missed, but ERA can take weeks or even months to reach a renter. Despite an unprecedented amount of available ERA, eviction filings across Arizona rose to about 91% of pre-pandemic levels in the first three months of 2022.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson announced on April 22 that he was refusing most of the $146 million in federal emergency rental assistance (ERA2) allocated to the state. Governor Hutchinson requested that the state be allowed to use 39% of the funds – about $60 million – for housing stability programs. Arkansas has about $20 million in available ERA1 funds. Arkansas and Nebraska are the only states to reject the latest round of ERA.
After Governor Hutchinson refused most of the state’s ERA2 allocation, community organizations called for more rental assistance for Arkansans.
Washington County, Arkansas, received over $1.7 million in additional Emergency Rental Assistance 2 (ERA2) funds from the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The county resumed payments for rent and utility assistance on April 21.
LAist reports that the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to take up an appeal from the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles, effectively leaving in place the City of Los Angeles’s ongoing eviction protections for renters negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Tenant advocates applauded the decision as a victory for local governments that passed policies to keep renters housed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The California Department of Housing and Community Development released a CDBG Management Memo concerning the CDBG/CDBG-CV Rental Relief Program to support cities and counties that want to provide rental assistance as part of their program. Grantees can provide rental assistance through this program for rent incurred on or after April 1, 2022.
According to an analysis by Connecticut Public Radio, no-fault evictions increased during the pandemic. Pre-pandemic, one out of every four people in housing court faced a no-fault eviction; now, one in two households does.
Between mid-March and early April 2022, eviction filings in Hartford more than doubled compared to the city’s pre-pandemic average. Advocates attribute the sharp rise in evictions to emergency rental assistance (ERA) funds running out. UniteCT, the statewide ERA program, is one of over 100 programs that are either closed or on hold due to lack of funds. “[ERA] has kept people who otherwise would have lost their homes during the pandemic stably housed,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel. “But now those resources are depleted, and we’re seeing more renters again struggling to make ends meet and keep a roof over their heads.”
The Delaware State Housing Authority announced on April 21 that eligible renters can now receive up to 18 months of rental and utility assistance through the Delaware Housing Assistance Program. Previously, the program provided 15 months of assistance. Applicants who have already met the prior 15-month limit can reapply for the additional three months of assistance via an online portal.
Volusia County reopened its Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program using funds from a previous federal grant. Households who are receiving or have received assistance through the OUR Florida program are not eligible to receive aid through the county’s ERA program.
The St. Petersburg City Council is considering how to increase the availability of legal representation for tenants facing eviction.
Cobb County announced on April 13 the availability of nearly $7 million in additional emergency rental assistance (ERA2) funds. The county’s nonprofit partners have reopened their application portals and phone lines.
KCCI Des Moines reports that with COVID-19 aid running out and eviction protections lifted, evictions in Iowa are heading back to pre-pandemic levels. According to Iowa Legal Aid, 5,317 evictions have occurred in Iowa this year.
The Somerville Board of Health approved an extension and sunset date for the city’s eviction moratorium. Otherwise set to expire on April 30, the moratorium now has a 60-day sunset period and will end on June 30. Somerville’s eviction moratorium is the last remaining local eviction moratorium in Massachusetts.
Michigan Radio reports that the Detroit City Council is considering a proposed “Right to Counsel” ordinance that would pay for legal assistance for low-income Detroit residents facing eviction, tax foreclosure, and land contract issues. Attorney Tonya Meyers Phillips, a project leader of the Detroit Right to Counsel Coalition, says that while the rate of evictions decreased somewhat with emergency rental assistance, evictions are starting to rise again.
According to MLive, about $21.3 million in emergency rental assistance (ERA) is available in Kent County. Officials are urging residents to apply soon as the program might end in May. The program has paid out about $38 million in ERA since it began last year. Another $1 million has been approved but not yet paid out.
Housing advocates are calling on Governor Tim Walz and the Minnesota legislature to invest $300 million in emergency rental assistance (ERA) and to continue protecting renters with pending ERA applications from evictions.
St. Louis City and County’s Human Services Departments have joined forces to provide one online portal for residents to apply for the latest round of federal emergency rental assistance funds. The new portal will be managed by LiveStories, a company selected during a competitive bid process to oversee the application process for both the city and the county.
The Bernalillo County Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) still has funds available. The county has distributed more than $3.7 million in rent relief to more than 531 county residents who live outside Albuquerque. Learn more here.
New York Attorney General Letitia James issued an advisory to landlords on April 18 reminding them that they cannot raise rents if they accepted or plan to accept funding from the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), which was recently expanded in the state’s budget. Landlords who accept payments from the program are prohibited from raising rents for a year after they receive the funds. Attorney General James said she is prepared to take action to protect tenants if landlords fail to abide by ERAP’s rules.
The NY Daily News reports state lawmakers on April 22 urged New York’s Chief Judge Janet DiFiore to avert “an impending eviction and homelessness crisis” by ordering housing courts to slow operations until all low-income tenants have lawyers. According to 32 state lawmakers, Judge DiFiore’s refusal to slow the speed at which judges are processing a backlog of 220,000 eviction lawsuits and counting undermines city law and is actively influencing outcomes. Moreover, this figure does not include more than 30,000 primarily Black and Hispanic NYCHA households also behind on rent.
The Legal Aid Society announced on April 18 that hundreds of New Yorkers facing eviction may have to represent themselves in court due to a backlog of eviction cases leading to a shortage of legal aid attorneys. After the eviction moratorium was lifted in January, eviction filings have been on the rise across the state.
Over 3,100 renters are waiting for assistance from Wake County’s emergency rental assistance (ERA) program, with some renters having waited more than six months for aid. The program has paid 4,900 renters and denied aid to about 2,600 applicants.
Lucas County Commissioners and local leaders announced plans to strengthen eviction protections, including by hiring a Landlord-Tenant Services Manager. A new eviction prevention initiative will connect residents with local organizations that can provide assistance. According to the Toledo Municipal Court, nearly 1,300 evictions have been filed this year.
Several Pennsylvania state lawmakers, researchers, and advocates gathered in the state capital to call for a permanent emergency rental assistance program to support the large numbers of cost-burdened families in the commonwealth. The action was fueled by a new study that examined housing affordability pre-pandemic and in the current climate. The report points to effective COVID-19 policies and programs, including eviction moratoriums and Philadelphia’s Eviction Diversion Program.
The Center for Families Services (CFS) will stop accepting applications for the Crawford County Emergency Rental Assistance Program on April 29. Nearly $6 million in emergency rental relief has been distributed. “[The program has] definitely served its purpose,” said CFS Executive Director Jason Nesbitt. “The piece now moving forward, is to make sure we create a sustainability plan for those who were receiving [aid], because as a lot of us know, utilities, everything has gone up.”
The Texas Tribune reports that eviction filings in the state’s largest cities have reached their highest point since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the 31 cities tracked by the Eviction Lab, Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Austin ranked among the top 10 cities for new eviction filings in early April. Landlords in Houston, Dallas, and Fort Worth together filed more than 37,000 evictions in the first three months of 2022.
The last of Travis County’s eviction protections ended in March as the number of eviction filings jumped to pre-pandemic levels. Landlords have filed over 2,510 evictions so far in 2022 – more than 50% of Travis County’s pandemic-era total in just three months. Travis County closed its rental assistance program in March – just one week after reopening it – due to high demand.
The number of evictions in Austin has spiked since March, reaching pre-pandemic levels.
An eviction clinic was held in Dallas on April 23 to help families facing eviction apply for emergency rental assistance (ERA). Community organizations, including attorneys from North Texas Legal Aid, provided over 100 families with legal advice and help applying for ERA.
According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly half of minority renters in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area do not feel confident that they can pay their rent. Rachael Myers, executive director of the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, says that while the pandemic may have worsened this trend, it did not create it.
Crosscut reports that while evidence suggests fraud in federal emergency rental assistance (ERA) programs is rare, fears of fraud in some states have prevented tenants from receiving assistance. More than 1,000 residents in Thurston County applied or were approved for help before the county abruptly shut down the program due to rent relief fraud allegations. The decision to suddenly halt the county’s rental assistance program without a replacement provider left hundreds of tenants in uncertainty for several months.
West Virginians in need of assistance can still apply for aid through the Mountaineer Rental Assistance Program. While the emergency rental assistance funds will run out, the West Virginia Housing Development Fund is working to create a permanent system of eviction diversion and emergency assistance to support West Virginians.
Department of Housing and Urban Development