Consumer bureau launches rental aid tool with eviction cliff looming

Consumer bureau launches rental aid tool with eviction cliff looming
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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on Wednesday launched a website meant to connect struggling tenants with federal rental aid providers with less than a week until a federal eviction ban is set to expire.

The CFPB’s rental and utility assistance tool is intended to match tenants with the state and local organizations charged with disbursing more than $46 billion in federal aid meant to prevent a wave of evictions. While the federal government has disbursed all of that money to state and local distributors, less than 7 percent of it has reached tenants, landlords and utility companies by the end of June.

Millions of U.S. households could face eviction proceedings within days with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) moratorium set to expire on Aug. 1. Researchers at the Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, estimated 15 million people in 6.5 million households are at risk of eviction when the moratorium expires.

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The Biden administration is scrambling to get as much rental assistance out as possible to avert the wave of evictions. The White House on Wednesday also announced commitments from companies such as Square, PayPal, GoFundMe and Lyft to promote the CFPB’s rental assistance tool and the federal rental aid program to customers.

A range of nonprofits and industry groups are also teaming up with several federal departments to reach tenants in need of rental aid, the White House said, including United Way, Operation HOPE, The Arc, the National Apartment Association and the National Multifamily Housing Coalition.

“Agencies across the federal government, non-profit groups, faith-based organizations, and private sector companies are responding to the Biden-Harris Administration’s call to action to raise awareness. We expect that these efforts will reach tens of millions of Americans,” the White House said in a Wednesday announcement.

Even so, a growing number of Democratic lawmakers and housing rights advocates are calling on the administration to extend the eviction ban with the vast majority of rental aid still stuck in the pipeline.

“Some states and cities are successfully ramping up their programs and getting the money quickly to those who need it, but many more need to dramatically improve and expedite their efforts. At this time, even if they do, they can't reach all the 6.5 million families in need before the moratorium expires this week,” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, during a House hearing Tuesday.

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“States and cities, renters and families need more time.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezDon't let partisan politics impede Texas' economic recovery Ocasio-Cortez explains 'present' vote on Iron Dome Dingell fundraises off Greene altercation on Capitol steps MORE (D-N.Y.) last week also urged the CDC to extend the moratorium because of rising cases of COVID-19 driven by the delta variant.

“It is reckless not to extend the deadline when rental assistance funds have not gone out fast enough to protect people. Eviction filings have already spiked in anticipation of the moratorium being lifted,” she said.