Treasury says more rental aid is reaching tenants, preventing evictions

The Department of Treasury headquarters is seen in Washington, D.C., on June 3
Greg Nash

The Treasury Department on Friday announced that the pace of federal rental aid payments amid the coronavirus pandemic picked up last month, with more than $2.3 billion distributed to households to help prevent evictions. 

The federal agency said in a press release that in August, funds from the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERA) reached more than 420,000 households, an increase from 340,000 in July.

As of Aug. 31, state and local governments have distributed more than 1.4 million payments for a total of more than $7.7 billion in ERA funds. 

The data comes nearly a month after the Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration’s attempt to extend the eviction moratorium, fueling concerns that tenants will be forced out of their homes amid continued financial hardships spurred by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Treasury Department said Friday that “while there is still more work to do,” the increased rate of rental assistance is “the result of many months of collaboration between Treasury, the White House, and state and local governments to increase the distribution of assistance to renters and landlords in need.” 

While Congress has so far approved $46.5 billion in rental assistance, state and local governments are mainly working on allocating the first installment of $25 billion, which must be spent by Sept. 30, 2022. 

The second installment of ERA funds, totaling $21.5 billion, is permitted to be allocated through Sept. 30, 2025. 

Treasury said that by the end of September, it will begin working on identifying and reallocating excess ERA funds that have yet to be distributed to households, with Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo sending a letter to ERA recipients Friday detailing “how Treasury intends to approach the reallocation process and outline our vision for the months to come.” 

Adeyemo noted in the letter that additional funds will be made available to “high-performing grantees based on demonstrated needs,” with excess funds identified and reallocated based on a recipient’s use of previously allocated funds. 

“Though we have a long way to go, the Emergency Rental Assistance Program and other steps being taken are on track to protect millions of households from eviction,” he wrote. 

The Supreme Court last month struck down an attempt by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to extend the moratorium on evictions until Oct. 3 after the high court ruled earlier in the summer that the order could only be extended through an act of Congress. 

This week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) introduced a bill aiming to give the Department of Health and Human Services unilateral power in issuing a federal eviction moratorium.

Tags Cori Bush Department of the Treasury Elizabeth Warren emergency rental assistance eviction Eviction moratorium Finance Housing in the United States
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