The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) eviction moratorium is in place until July 31st, but the Supreme Court’s ruling made clear that CDC cannot extend the moratorium past its current expiration date. In light of that decision, the Biden-Harris Administration is taking steps to protect renters at risk of eviction. Today, at the President’s request, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) have extended their foreclosure-related eviction moratoria until September 30, 2021.
The President further asked our agencies, which play a significant role in providing and insuring affordable rental housing, to explore all available tools to keep American safe and housed. Through nearly 20 programs, financial incentives, tax credits, loans and guarantees, the federal government provides owners and operators of rental housing with significant support to provide housing to renters. As Secretaries of Agriculture, HUD, VA, and Treasury, and Acting Director of the FHFA, we recognize that our agencies provide the financial resources and incentives for federally-assisted and financed rental housing. We want to make clear that the owners and operators of this housing should make every effort to access Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) resources to avoid evicting a tenant for non-payment of rent. These resources are available in every state, and many counties and cities are also running local programs. Owners and operators of federally-assisted housing are stewards of important public resources and should access rental assistance both to prevent unnecessary human suffering and to protect the public investment in affordable housing.
The American Rescue Plan allocated an additional $21.5 billion for ERA that can be used by renters to cover rent and make landlords whole. This is on top of $25 billion allocated under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, bringing the total amount of ERA available to more than $46 billion and creating an economic, public health, and moral imperative for state and local governments to rise to the challenge of building a new infrastructure for getting ERA to vulnerable renters and landlords.
While few state and local agencies had ERA programs prior to this funding becoming available, the Administration has engaged in a whole-of-government effort to drive the distribution of these resources. Treasury has developed flexible program rules to make assistance easier to access, provided best practices for establishing effective programs, and communicated consequences for a lack of performance by state and local grantees.
To support Treasury as it implements the ERA program, HUD is providing technical assistance to HUD grantees and working with public housing authorities, private landlords, and tribal communities, to ensure that households and landlords participating in HUD’s federally-subsidized programs know the process for obtaining ERA, and that assistance is targeted to communities who need help the most.
The USDA is also committed to sharing ERA program information with rural communities. Within the USDA Multi-Family portfolio, there are approximately 65,000 tenants who do not receive rental assistance. Earlier this month, USDA sent letters to these tenants that included information on how to apply for the ERA program. Additionally, USDA has amplified the ERA program to over 250,000 online subscribers and rural leaders at the state and local level. USDA has also instructed Farm Service Agency and Rural Development State Offices to share ERA program hard copy materials with rural residents.
In addition to the direct and indirect steps VA is taking to help Veterans who are experiencing financial hardships as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is providing a one-stop website to inform Veterans facing housing instability of the programs and resources across the federal government that are available to them.
The Administration has engaged in a whole-of-government approach – together with major nonprofits and companies – to amplify the availability of these resources. This effort has reached tens of millions of households to let them know that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created a locater tool to help landlords and tenants find a program in their jurisdiction.
The delivery of ERA is ramping up as a result of these efforts and the hard work of public servants in state and local governments across the nation. A total of $1.5 billion in assistance was delivered to more than 290,000 renters in the month of June alone. But state and local governments must do better. Money is available in every state to help renters who are behind on rent and at risk of eviction, as well as landlords.
Our country and economy are in a stronger position now than they were in January 2021, yet households across the country, especially those that are not vaccinated, remain vulnerable to COVID-19 and its associated impacts, including housing insecurity. Helping our fellow Americans, including our Veterans, keep their homes will go a long way in making sure that they have one less thing to worry about as they rebuild their lives coming out of this crisis and try to keep their loved ones safe.