As the federal moratorium on evictions nears its expiration date, U.S. renters are growing anxious. More than 10 million Americans, or 14% of renters, are still behind on their rent more than a year after the first COVID-related eviction ban, according to The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Congress has distributed more than $45 billion in assistance to help with rent and mortgage payments, but, according to CNBC, the rollout has been slow in some states since the first funding package was passed in December and the second in March. Complex paperwork and unclear requirements are to blame.
“It is a race against the clock at this point to get the money to the tenants who need it to avoid eviction,” says Diane Yentel, the president of the nonprofit National Low Income Housing Coalition, reports NPR.
Yentel noted that the money to help renters is going from the U.S. Department of Treasury Department to states and to city and county governments.
The Treasury Department issued instructions saying that programs should take struggling tenants at their word if they can’t provide a necessary document, Andrew Aurand, vice president for research at the National Low Income Housing Coalition, told CNBC.
Only about half of the 400 programs giving out assistance are making that option clear to tenants. This impacts those in need the most. Minority renters and parents or those living with children that reported their households were not caught up on rent doubled that of white households without children, according to CBPP data.
The lack of clarity delays payments to landlords as well.
“State and local distribution programs that deviate from congressional intent, enacting haircuts or caps on back-rent, leave rental housing providers to unfairly absorb the debt and ultimately threaten the future of housing affordability,” Greg Brown, senior vice president of government affairs at the National Apartment Association.
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