U.S. Department of the Treasury
The U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) updated its ERA Portal on May 20 to allow grantees to directly input their requests for reallocated ERA1 funds via the Portal, which is accessible through ID.me and Login.gov. Grantees requesting that their ERA1 funds be reallocated should also input their requests via the Portal.
Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo sent a letter to Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) recipients on May 16, urging states and localities to continue to use SLFRF to address the most pressing challenges facing our economy and communities, including expanding access to affordable housing. “Governments used SLFRF to help 770,000 households afford rent, mortgage, or utility costs in 2021, in many cases building on the national eviction prevention infrastructure developed over the last year,” wrote Deputy Secretary Adeyemo. “More broadly, SLFRF presents an opportunity to dramatically accelerate development and preservation of affordable housing, expanding access to safe, quality, affordable homes that are critical to the wellbeing of all Americans.”
State and Local News
The City of Birmingham approved the allocation of $6.6 million in additional emergency rental assistance (ERA) funds, which will allow the city to support residents whose ERA applications were accepted but were put on hold due to a lack of funding. The city distributed $10.2 million in ERA to 2,046 Birmingham residents last year. After the funds were spent, there were still several hundred approved applicants who were waiting for assistance.
Data indicate that the eviction rate in Arkansas in 2022 is the highest it has been in five years. Governor Asa Hutchinson rejected approximately $86 million in federal emergency rental assistance last month, arguing that rent relief was not needed in the state’s economy. Despite this claim, 2,855 evictions have been filed in Arkansas this year. This number is 60% higher than the number of evictions filed over the same period in 2018.
Governor Gavin Newsom’s revised FY23-23 budget plan projects a $97.5 billion surplus and proposes to use a portion of that surplus to provide an additional $2.7 billion toward rent relief and $1.4 billion for utility assistance.
The LA Times provides an overview of the tenant protections still in place in Southern California. Some of the state restrictions on landlords have expired, leaving a patchwork of eviction bans and rent deferrals in place only in Los Angeles and certain other cities.
Santa Cruz County will close its final two Project Roomkey locations in the coming weeks, with about two dozen residents unsure of where they will go next. By the end of this fiscal year, the county will have spent $73 million on Project Roomkey.
As evictions rise again in Arapahoe County after decreasing for several years due to COVID-19 eviction protections, the county recently launched an Eviction Clinic Pilot Program to provide free legal aid to tenants facing eviction. The Denver Post reports that the county will fund the three-year program using $1.5 million in American Rescue Plan funding. Attorneys with Colorado Legal Services will be available to counsel tenants three mornings a week at the Arapahoe County Community Services building.
As the number of evictions in Connecticut increases, the state legislature has allocated $5 million for eviction prevention programs through its Department of Housing. These investments include an expanded “rent bank” that will provide rental assistance to households facing eviction – typically those whose landlords have already started the eviction process.
According to the Tallahassee Democrat, housing and nonprofit partners in Florida are concerned about how they will support renters after they were given short notice that the state’s emergency rental assistance program would abruptly close. Social service providers were given only two days of notice before the OUR Florida program was terminated. The end of the ERA program is compounding housing issues exacerbated by the pandemic, inflation, and skyrocketing rents.
Broward County, Florida, has received an additional $22 million in emergency rental assistance (ERA2). The ERA2 program includes several changes to increase access to assistance, including allowing applicants to self-attest to certain eligibility requirements and providing direct-to-tenant assistance.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that two months after Gwinnett County received $25 million in new federal emergency rental assistance (ERA) funds, 96% of the money has been spent or committed. The county has spent nearly $8 million and approved an additional $16 million of the new ERA allocation for applicants.
Some Illinois tenants report that their landlords have refused to participate in emergency rental assistance (ERA) programs by failing to provide the necessary documentation or signatures required for assistance.
The City of Fort Wayne announced on May 23 that the Emergency Rental Assistance Program closed and will not be accepting new applications since the city has committed all available funds. Fort Wayne renters requiring rent and utility assistance can now apply to the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority by calling 211 or visiting www.IndianaHousingNow.org.
A Maine judge is blocking a motel in Wells from evicting long-term residents on short notice. The Majestic Regency Resort delivered notices to residents, who are using COVID-19 relief funds to live at the motel, announcing that they would have to leave in several days or be reported to the police for trespassing. The judge’s temporary order remains in effect until a later hearing on the merits of the case.
According to the DCist, a cap on rent increases in Montgomery County that was enacted during the pandemic expired on May 15. Advocates and some officials are concerned that the end of the cap and fee protections could lead to a steep increase in rent costs.
The Gilbert Family Foundation pledged $13 million over three years to help low-income families facing eviction in Detroit. The donation to the Detroit Eviction Defense Fund will help an estimated 6,000 Detroiters a year.
A Fox9 investigation revealed that landlords in Minnesota have used a legal loophole to evict tenants despite pandemic eviction protections. Potentially thousands of Minnesota renters were forced from their homes through ‘off the books’ evictions, which can be triggered by a notice to vacate that requires no justification and can be issued at the end of a lease or at any point during a monthly or verbal agreement.
Data obtained by the ABC6 Action News Investigative Team show that eviction filings in Camden County have quadrupled from pre-pandemic levels. Eviction filings have more than doubled in Atlantic County from 2019 to 2022 and have nearly tripled in Burlington County.
Despite having their evictions dismissed, renters in Columbus, Ohio, face barriers to obtaining housing. One Columbus landlord filed two evictions against a tenant during the pandemic while the tenant was waiting on a rental assistance payment from IMPACT Community Action. While both evictions were dismissed, the landlord recently told the tenant he will not renew her lease. Although the tenant has found other homes that fit her budget, she has been continually rejected due to the eviction filings on her records.
Advocates for people experiencing homelessness protested outside Governor Dan McKee’s State House office on May 12 to urge Rhode Island lawmakers to deploy 500 beds for the hundreds of people that are being evicted from hotels funded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Funding for the hotels will stop at the end of next month, and advocates are urging officials to act quickly to find housing for the roughly 500 residents.
The City of Dallas stopped accepting new applications for its emergency rental assistance (ERA) program on May 22. Applications that have already been submitted will continue to be processed.
A Houston tenant was evicted even though she is awaiting help from the Houston-Harris County Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Program. The tenant’s landlord agreed to participate in the ERA program and by doing so was required to agree not to evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent while their application was being reviewed. An attorney representing the tenant reports that this is not an isolated incident and that similar situations are occurring across the board.
El Paso County Commissioners approved $2.8 million on May 16 for emergency rental assistance funds that will be distributed by United Way of El Paso.
The Virginia Rent Relief Program stopped accepting applications on May 15. Through March 2022, the program distributed $713 million in aid to 104,990 households across Virginia. The Legal Aid Justice Center is concerned about a potential rise in evictions when many of the legal protections for tenants that were paired with rental assistance end on June 30.
There are growing concerns about a looming wave of evictions after Virginia’s rental assistance program stopped accepting applications on May 15. Two rent relief programs are still available to help renters in Charlottesville. Nearly $400,000 in rental assistance is available in the city and Albemarle County. If the demand for assistance increases, the city council may consider using ARPA Fiscal Recovery Funds to provide additional rental assistance.
The tenant advocacy group African Communities Together is working to prevent a wave of evictions in the Southern Towers complex in Alexandria, Virginia. Despite eviction protections enacted during the pandemic, the property owner still pursued eviction proceedings against some of the residents. Advocates are concerned that evictions could escalate since the Virginia Rent Relief Program has stopped accepting applications and many of the eviction protections for tenants that were paired with that program will soon expire.
Hundreds of families who live in public housing in Richmond are facing eviction. About 700 families are on Richmond Redevelopment & Housing Authority’s at-risk list, with 300 households set to face eviction this summer.
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi has asked staff to explore the feasibility of extending the county’s emergency hotel shelter program for individuals experiencing homelessness due to the recent increase in COVID-19 cases in the community. Dane County is currently utilizing around 170 hotels to shelter people experiencing homelessness who are at higher risk and those in need of isolation and quarantine shelter. The county’s program is currently set to close at the end of June, but Parisi asked county staff to speak with local hotels and service providers about potentially extending services into next year, given federal projections of a renewed surge in COVID-19 cases this fall.