Accelerating disbursement of first $25 billion installment of $46.5 billion in rental assistance
Chandra Dobbs was stunned when the constable showed up at his door with a thick packet of eviction papers. He thought he had more time.
“I didn’t think I’d be evicted because I applied for rental assistance,” Dobbs said a few days later. “But they didn’t want to wait four to six weeks. So now we’re homeless — me, my 16-year-old son, my daughter and my grandson, a baby.”
Their confusion is a common theme across America, when the federal government ended renters’ protections while paying billions of dollars in rental assistance. Instead of the expected surge in evictions, many landlords are closing, waiting for federal funds to arrive.
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But while some jurisdictions bar landlords from eviction tenants who have applied for rent, most do not.
Court records show that the eviction judgment against Dobbs was worth $3,837, including $2,700 in rent and late fees, and court and legal costs. Encore Management LLC, which filed for eviction, did not respond to a request for comment about its side of the case.
Dobbs, who was fired from a job as a foreign dancer during the pandemic, said her family is temporarily staying with friends while working with a nonprofit to find a new home and To get money for the rent deposit.
After a slow start, the pace of disbursing the first $25 billion installment of $46.5 billion in rental assistance is accelerating. Treasury Department officials said the program had served 420,000 homes in August — up from 340,000 in July — and disbursed $7.7 billion since January.
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Treasury officials said strong signs of progress came from New Jersey, New York and South Carolina, which had previously struggled to keep up with their programs. For example, New Jersey sent no money in the first quarter, but has now distributed 78% of its first installment money and doubled the number of households in August compared to July.
“These numbers are still preliminary, uncertain and these reports do not show the additional pain and difficulty,” said Gene Sperling, who is charged with overseeing the implementation of Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package. “But what’s out there so far is certainly better than anyone’s previous best-case scenario for the month following the postponement.”
Sterling credited the increase in eviction diversion programs as a major reason the tidal wave had not been predicted, adding that it was important to expedite relief funds to landlords. On Wednesday, the Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a new rule prohibiting landlords from evicting tenants in HUD-subsidized public housing without providing 30 days’ notice and information about available federal emergency rental assistance. Gaya.
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Some tenants have benefited from the remaining eviction moratorium, including California, which expired last month, New York which runs through the end of the year, and Boston which continues.
Others have taken advantage of newly created programs, from Washington to Texas to Philadelphia to New Hampshire, aimed at keeping eviction cases out of courts and keeping renters in their homes. Some court systems also enforce eviction policies if a tenant has applied for rental assistance, while at least three states and 10 cities have approved measures to provide free legal counsel to tenants in eviction proceedings. has given.
Diane Yantel, president and CEO of the Low-Income Coalition, said the nonprofit has encouraged state and local governments leaders to maintain some local eviction restrictions even after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moratorium ends in late August. Keep it
Landlord advocacy groups encourage members not to evict tenants who have applied for government funding to pay their previous rent, but owners don’t always follow that suggestion. Small property owners, in particular, have struggled for months to pay their own mortgages and taxes, with many tenants not paying rent.
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“Most property owners have worked with their residents for about two years to keep people in their homes,” said Courtney Gilstrap Levinas, president of the Arizona Multihousing Association.
She has defended landlords during the pandemic, noting that many have been pushed to the brink of bankruptcy.
According to a synthesis of two recent studies of mostly small landlords conducted by the Turner Center of Housing Innovation at the University of California, many property owners were willing to make concessions during the pandemic, waiving late fees and sometimes reducing or reducing rents. to forgive. Berkeley, and Harvard University’s Joint Center for Habitat Studies.
The findings also highlighted the financial difficulties that landlords have faced, with some opting to sell their properties, a move that could lead to a loss of affordable housing stock in some communities.
US Marine veteran Paul Wonder, who was on schedule for Constable Kristen Randall’s eviction from his Tucson apartment next week, said all landlords should wait to receive federal funds set aside for rental assistance so they can To get rent money.
“If they wait just a month, they’ll get all their money,” Wonder said days before locking their little dog Missy, a shaggy terrier mix, inside their apartment. The 66-year-old was laid off early global pandemic, then laid off again after getting another job as an air conditioner technician.
“If they throw us on the street,” he said, “they will get nothing.”