White House Hosts Second Virtual Convening on Eviction Prevention

The White House hosted a second virtual eviction prevention convening on July 21 to help municipalities quickly deliver rental assistance and develop community-specific eviction-prevention plans. The convening highlighted best practices and actions taken by cities since the first White House Eviction Prevention Summit on June 30, which featured a public plenary with key administration officials and a series of breakout sessions with teams from nearly 50 cities to develop eviction prevention action plans for their local areas (see Memo, 7/6).

White House American Rescue Plan Coordinator Gene Sperling delivered opening remarks, emphasizing the Biden administration’s commitment to prevent evictions and their devastating consequences. He highlighted new data released by the U.S. Department of the Treasury on the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program, which showed that more than $1.5 billion in ERA was delivered to eligible households in June – more than what was distributed in the previous three reporting periods combined. While the data indicate substantial progress in the distribution of ERA, Sperling emphasized we must do much more to deliver these critical resources and keep families in their homes.

Mr. Sperling urged state and local officials to use the flexibility provided by the administration to distribute ERA swiftly to households in need. “When we say that you can use more self-attestation, categorical eligibility, factual predicates, bulk payments, that you can help tenants directly – that’s not just allowing, it’s not a suggestion – we are encouraging, we are asking people to do what they can,” said Mr. Sperling. “This is not a time to hide behind being overly conservative, overly cautious, or overly complacent. There is too much at stake.”

Noel Poyo, deputy assistant secretary for community economic development at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, emphasized the Biden administration’s whole-of-government approach to preventing evictions and outlined key policy changes Treasury has made to the ERA guidance. Per Olstad from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) spoke about resources to support renters, homeowners, and landlords, including the interagency housing assistance portal and CFPB’s housing insecurity media toolkit.

Speakers from across the country discussed best practices on topics such as leveraging partnerships with nonprofit and community organizations to streamline access to ERA and eviction diversion programs and providing culturally and linguistically relevant outreach and education. Another panel addressed strategies for engaging landlords with intentional outreach efforts, strategic messaging campaigns, and hands-on assistance to help landlords and tenants navigate the ERA application process.

The convening featured panels on how mayors, judges, and philanthropy can take an active role in local efforts to keep renters in their homes. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer highlighted how their cities are utilizing ERA funds and American Rescue Plan Act State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds for eviction prevention strategies such as rental assistance, right-to-counsel, and rapid rehousing. Chief Magistrate of Cobb County Judge Brendan Murphy and Judge Rachel Bell, presiding judge over the Davidson County General Sessions Court, spoke about efforts to inform tenants and landlords about ERA and eviction diversion programs, utilize housing court navigators, and employ other strategies to slow the eviction process and allow more time for ERA to reach households.

Access the readout of the second White House Eviction Prevention Convening at: https://tinyurl.com/2mhju5ru

Watch the recording of the convening at: https://tinyurl.com/3mrbws48