WASHINGTON (AP) – The number of households receiving emergency rent assistance has risen steadily in recent months, without a major increase in the number of people being sent home despite the expiration of the federal moratorium on evictions, the federal moratorium said on Monday. ‘Biden administration.
New figures released by the Treasury Department, which oversees the emergency rent assistance program, showed the number of households receiving benefits jumped 10% in September, reaching 510,000 households from 459,000 in August. .
“There was no major national spike in evictions after the federal moratorium was lifted as eviction records remained below historical averages,” the Treasury Department said in a statement, citing data from the laboratory. expulsion from Princeton University.
Congress authorized $ 46.5 billion in emergency rental assistance late last year. But the program’s initial roll-out was hampered by slow dispersal, with administration officials publicly accusing state and municipal partners of hampering the process with excessive bureaucracy and slow reaction time.
In response, the government issued new guidelines over the summer, encouraging states to cut red tape and allow applicants to “self-certify” their difficulties without providing bank statements or pay stubs.
Gene Sperling, senior adviser to President Joe Biden on eviction aid efforts, cited this streamlined process to help speed money flows and keep desperate families at home.
Rent assistance funds “are making a significant difference in preventing the dreaded surge in evictions, but it is still not enough,” Sperling told reporters on Monday. âEven with the best performers, we know that if we don’t do better nationally, hundreds of thousands of families will still needlessly faceâ¦ the risk of eviction.â
The Biden administration allowed the federal moratorium on evictions to expire in late July, then relaunched it days later in response to pressure from political allies. But the Supreme Court ruled in late August that the administration did not have the power to stop the evictions, and Congress did not intervene.
As the federal government now focuses on pumping money into rental assistance programs, the national moratorium has turned into a patchwork of localized moratoria, in places like Washington, DC, Boston and the United States. New York State – all expiring at different times.
Some of these local moratoria are partly credited with helping prevent evictions across the country. And some housing advocates warn that the lower than expected number of evictions may also be the result of the backlog of slowly growing cases in overcrowded housing courts.
Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, called the latest figures from the Treasury “evidence of improved administration of the program in some communities.”
But she cautioned against the premature celebrations, saying the threat of mass evictions still looms and federal relief money is still advancing too slowly in many jurisdictions.
âMany other communities are still lagging behind – they need to quickly improve their programs and get emergency rental assistance to tenants who need it to stay stably housed,â Yentel said.
The Household Pulse Survey conducted by the US Census Bureau in late August indicated that more than 7.5 million Americans were behind on their rent and 1.3 million said it was “very likely” to be overdue. ‘they will be deported within the next two months.
But for now, the Treasury Department is welcoming the national figures as proof that the decision to streamline the application process has produced tangible results. The Treasury statement cites dramatic local increases in the amount of scattered rental assistance funds: the city of Los Angeles has grown from $ 32 million scattered in August to $ 72 million in September; the state of Illinois distributed $ 62 million in August and $ 177 million in September.
The cited jurisdictions have all “simplified their application processes for tenants by relying more on self-attestation,” the statement said.
Now the Consolidated Revenue Fund will begin the process of recovering some of these unused rental assistance funds from locations that have been slow to distribute. State and local authorities were facing a September 30 deadline to disburse 65% of the money they received in the first batch of rent assistance funding. Those who fall below this threshold will have the unused portion recovered and the money will be redistributed to other parts of the country.
The Treasury statement said the ministry was starting the assessment process and would make decisions in mid-November on how much to recover and where to redirect it.