DHRC Coronavirus Updates: September 30, 2022
NLIHC is maintaining a COVID-19/Housing and Homelessness News and Resources page here.
End Rental Arrears to Stop Evictions (ERASE) Update
Virtual registration is now open for the livestream of “Emergency Rental Assistance: The Path to a Permanent Program,” a national convening that will be held by NLIHC on October 17 from 8:30 am to 5 pm ET at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. In-person attendance has reached capacity. Learn more here.
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
On September 15, HUD announced final reallocation amounts for 62 Emergency Solutions Grants Program CARES Act (ESG-CV) recipients totaling $52 million.
Department of the Treasury
The U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) updated its resource on promising practices for implementing culturally and linguistically competent outreach into ERA programs on September 16.
On September 26, Treasury released the reallocation amounts for ERA1 Round 3 Reallocation.
The National Women’s Law Center’s (NWLC) latest Census Household Pulse Survey analysis takes a deep dive into housing insecurity and food insufficiency based on gender (including sexual orientation and gender identity), race/ethnicity, and disability status for the June 1 – August 8, 2022 surveys. Among other critical findings, the analysis finds that nearly 4.8 million women (16.4% of women who rent) reported being behind on their rent payments. Black, Latina, and Asian women – particularly disabled women of color – and LGBT adults of color were found to be behind on rent at higher rates. You can access NWLC’s collection of household pulse survey analyses here.
State and Local News
A list of state and local emergency rental assistance programs compiled by NLIHC is available here.
Arizona evictions are up more than 67% from a year ago, with Maricopa County reporting that evictions in August reached their highest levels since 2008. The rulings are getting more costly, with the average judgment being $1,400 more than it was a decade ago.
The City of Phoenix’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program has $22 million in remaining ERA funds. The city has distributed more than $100 million in aid to nearly 15,000 households, according to the city’s ERA dashboard.
San Francisco officials announced on September 22 that the city would stop accepting new applications for its emergency rental assistance (ERA) program immediately. Officials attributed the abrupt pause to an overwhelming demand for assistance after California closed its statewide ERA program. With tenants filing about 300 new applications a week, the city faces a backlog of 4,000 applications.
The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports that Sarasota and Manatee counties have paused accepting new applications for emergency rental assistance (ERA). Sarasota County temporarily paused accepting applications after the U.S. Department of the Treasury denied the county’s request for its next allocation of ERA funds. Manatee County temporarily stopped accepting new applications in order to process the remaining applications before requesting its next allocation of ERA funds.
The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports that Hawaii’s two nonprofit mediation centers are partnering to continue providing free Zoom mediation for landlords and tenants now that landlords are no longer required to send a 15-day eviction notice.
A landlord in Ada County refused to accept emergency rental assistance paid by St. Vincent de Paul on behalf of a tenant, claiming he does not accept assistance from a third party. Jesse Tree – a nonprofit that provides eviction prevention assistance – says the demand for assistance in the Treasure Valley has more than doubled compared to previous years.
The Indianapolis City-County Council voted on September 12 to allocate $20 million in State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to IndyRent, the city’s emergency rental assistance (ERA) program. The program has spent $169.3 million in federal ERA funds and filled over 60,000 applications. City officials are considering how to maintain the IndyRent program post-pandemic, but local dollars cannot solely fund a sustainable, permanent program. NLIHC is working to build cosponsors for the “Eviction Crisis Act,” which if enacted by the U.S. Congress would establish a permanent emergency rental assistance program.
Governor Andy Beshear announced on September 22 that the U.S. Department of the Treasury approved reallocating nearly $7 million of the remaining Healthy at Home Eviction Relief Funds to Lexington’s program. Since March 2021, more than $187 million has been provided to help over 43,000 households in Kentucky stay in their homes and prevent utility shutoffs.
The City of New Orleans announced on September 26 that the Mayor’s Office of Housing Policy and Community Development (OCD) has received an additional $24 million in reallocated emergency rental assistance (ERA) funds from the U.S. Department of the Treasury. OCD has received over $105 million for the city’s ERA program and has provided over 16,000 households with rental and utility assistance. New Orleans will use the additional ERA funds to fill financial gaps in affordable housing development projects.
The Detroit City Council voted unanimously in May to create a right-to-counsel program for low-income renters. The program was set to launch on October 1, but the start date has been delayed. The program will be funded, over three years, by $6 million in State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) provided through the American Rescue Plan. The city is working to produce requests for proposals (RFPs).
Kansas City’s new Right to Counsel program, which launched on June 1, has successfully completed 75 cases that have resulted in agreements with landlords, dismissals, or the opportunity for a judge to hear the case. Pre-pandemic, 99% of cases filed in Jackson County resulted in evictions. In the first three months of the Right to Counsel program, Kansas City has seen a drastic change. Initial data indicate that making lawyers available and improving access to emergency rental assistance have together resulted in reducing the eviction rate to less than 20%.
The New Hampshire Local Welfare Administrators Association reports an alarming trend in renovation evictions statewide, with nearly 600 households evicted from their homes. The New Hampshire Emergency Rental Assistance Program has covered the costs for these households –between 750 to 900 people – to stay in motels, but these funds are expected to run out by the end of the year. The state does not limit how much a landlord can raise a tenant’s rent. Without protections, tenants have no recourse when landlords claim renovation evictions.
While eviction rates in New York are below pre-pandemic rates, evictions are on the rise. Courts are seeing some of the highest filing points, and actual evictions are at their highest point since the pandemic began. These numbers do not fully capture all evictions because some tenants may be forced out of their apartments outside of a court case or may self-evict. Advocates are alarmed by the slow and steady rise in evictions and are warning that the upward trend will continue. Despite a law requiring that every income-eligible tenant have access to free legal counsel, there is a shortage of lawyers to meet the demand. Both landlords and tenants agree that, to an extent, eviction rates reflect the much larger issue of a lack of affordable housing.
Evictions are on the rise across North Carolina. Nearly 15,000 evictions were filed across the state in August – nearly double the number filed in August 2021. Housing advocates are concerned that evictions will continue to increase, especially since emergency rental assistance funds have started to be depleted. While evictions are a problem in almost every community, 75% of recent evictions in Durham County occurred in communities where a majority of residents are people of color.
An op-ed in the Charlotte Observer calls for pandemic-era programs like the Durham Eviction Diversion Program to be sustained. The COVID-19 pandemic spurred renewed efforts to address housing inequality, propelled by a consensus that stable housing is critical to helping people stay healthy during a public health crisis. The author argues that ensuring equitable, fair, and affordable housing in Durham and across North Carolina should not be just a temporary goal.
The Cincinnati-Hamilton Community Action Agency (CAA), which is tasked with distributing the county’s allocation of federal emergency rental assistance (ERA) funds, received a three-month extension to distribute recently reallocated ERA1 funds. CAA suspended new applications at the end of August to catch up on thousands of backlogged applications. Since the program launched in February 2021, CAA has distributed more than $20 million in ERA to more than 7,000 households. The program is running low on funds and hoping to receive an additional $9.1 million from Ohio’s ERA2 allocation, but the state has not confirmed the availability of those funds.
The Toledo Lucas County Emergency Rental Assistance Program application will remain open until the end of the year. The program has provided just under 4,000 households in Toledo-Lucas County with more than $20 million in assistance.
More than 30 residents of a North Portland transitional housing complex are being evicted due to depleted federal emergency rental assistance (ERA) funds. Many residents of the complex relied on ERA to afford their rent and now face eviction because those funds have dried up. The Oregon Law Center fears that the end of Safe Harbor Protections – which prohibit evictions for individuals who have applied for ERA – and a prolonged eviction timeline that slowed down the court process during the pandemic will increase evictions and exacerbate the state’s homeless crisis.
Housing advocates in Oregon are warning of a potential spike in evictions after the state increased the rent cap for next year. On September 13, state economists announced that landlords in Oregon can raise rents by up to 14.6% in 2023. This is the largest increase since the rent cap rule was established in 2019. Advocates warn that the end of eviction protections and skyrocketing housing costs will increase evictions across the state. The Oregon Law Center’s Eviction Defense Project reported a spike of around 2,000 people facing eviction in August – a 45% increase from July.
A study released by the Lehigh Valley Justice Institute (LVJI) found that tenants facing eviction rarely win cases in court without a lawyer. Tenants win just 1.7% of cases in Northampton County, but their chances of winning increase by 470% if they are represented by an attorney. To address this enormous gap, LVJI proposes solutions like providing tenants with information on legal representation, informing landlords about rental assistance programs as an alternative to filing an eviction, and establishing settlement mediation programs.
The Clarion County Housing Authority announced that the waitlist for the Emergency Rental Assistance 2 Program (ERAP-2) would close on September 29, 2022. Preference will be granted to applicants with household incomes below 50% of AMI.
The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs awarded the Texas Access to Justice Foundation (TAJF) an additional $20 million grant to continue the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). TAJF is the state’s largest funding source for legal aid. The ERAP provides legal information and representation to Texans to help them maintain or obtain housing. The grant will support a second year of the program’s legal services through August 31, 2024.
With rental costs on the rise, more North Texans are seeking housing assistance. Local organizations that distribute emergency rental assistance have been overwhelmed with calls and are running out of funds.
On September 27, the Harris County Commissioners Court approved $4 million to expand access to legal representation for tenants facing eviction. “It would be cruel and irresponsible to ignore our growing eviction crisis ... These are families on the brink of homelessness,” said Commissioner Rodney Ellis. “We know that legal assistance is effective in keeping people housed, healthy, and safe."
Vermont officials say an estimated $20 million dollars will become available for some of the lowest-income people in need of emergency rental assistance (ERA) in the state. Earlier this month, the state announced that its ERA program would be phased out. State officials promise that the state’s highest priority is extending assistance through April 2023 for Vermonters whose incomes are below 30% of AMI.
With more than 800 evictions scheduled in Richmond’s General District Court, the director of litigation at the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society is referring to the current climate as “grim.”
The Burien City Council voted on September 12 to lift the city’s eviction moratorium by October 31, 2022. Additionally, the council voted to add rental housing policies to its future agendas.
West Virginia officials estimate that by mid-October, the state will have returned $86 million of its initial $350 million allocation of federal emergency rental assistance (ERA) funds. Because West Virginia spent the funds too slowly, the U.S. Department of the Treasury redistributed the money to other states. The Central WV Community Action Agency, which is one of 16 agencies that distributed ERA in the state, emphasizes that West Virginians still need assistance to remain in their homes.
Department of Housing and Urban Development