Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge, and Attorney General Merrick Garland sent a letter on August 27 to state and local government leaders urging them to take immediate action to prevent unnecessary evictions during the pandemic. The letter highlights actions Treasury, HUD, and the Department of Justice have taken to accelerate the distribution of emergency rental assistance (ERA) to keep people in their homes, and it urges state and local officials to enact their own policies to protect renters and landlords.
Secretaries Yellen and Fudge, along with Attorney General Garland, state that “no one should be evicted before they have the opportunity to apply for rental assistance, and no eviction should move forward until that application has been processed.” The letter urges governors, mayors, county executives, and chief justices and state court administrators to take the following urgent actions:
- Enact their own eviction moratoriums during the remainder of the public health emergency. Six states and the District of Columbia already have eviction moratoriums in effect.
- Work with state and local governments to require landlords to apply for ERA before they can initiate eviction proceedings.
- Stay eviction proceedings while ERA applications are being processed. At the same time, state and local governments must also speed the delivery of ERA.
- Use ERA and State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (“Fiscal Recovery Funds”) allocated through the “American Rescue Plan Act” to support the right to counsel and eviction diversion strategies.
- Remove unnecessary barriers to accessing ERA funds by adopting the recommendations in Treasury’s revised guidance, including expediting assistance by relying on renter self-attestations without demanding further documentation.
The administration officials highlight that Congress has provided state and local governments tens of billions of dollars to support tenants and landlords through the ERA program and Fiscal Recovery Funds. Enacting the policies outlined in the letter will help ensure renters are not evicted before these resources reach them.
“With lives on the line, it is imperative that we act – at all levels of government – to keep people in their homes and prevent a surge in COVID-19, as well as the long-term economic scarring and poor health consequences that come with eviction,” the officials write. “We applaud the efforts of the state and local governments that have already taken these and other actions to prevent unnecessary evictions, as we know many of you have. However, we also know more must be done and that effective and comprehensive policies to prevent unnecessary evictions have never been more urgent.”
Read the full text of the letter at: https://bit.ly/2XYC9Za