Rental Assistance Still Not Reaching Tenants in Need

Federal funds meant to help renters during the pandemic are still stuck in bureaucratic limbo as the end of the latest eviction moratorium looms in early October.

August 19, 2021, 9:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Small-Scale Apartment

Sludge G / Flickr

Although Congress allocated $46 billion in rental assistance in the last two COVID-19 stimulus packages, writes Annie Nova, "just around $4.2 billion of that money has reached households, according to a new analysis by the National Low Income Housing Coalition."

Distribution has varied widely in different states: "Texas has already managed to distribute more than half of its first round of federal rental assistance, while South Carolina has given out less than 2%." Throughout the U.S., "programs are understaffed and overwhelmed by the volume of applications. Insufficient outreach and arduous documentation requirements have also been barriers. A recent study by the Urban Institute found that fewer than half of renters even know about the federal assistance." The process can also be prohibitively complicated. "Andrew Aurand, vice president for research at the housing coalition, said he ran into one application that was 45 pages long. Another required renters to document their income over the last six months."

Recently, renters got a short reprieve with an extended eviction moratorium that ends on October 3, but housing advocates say getting rental assistance to those who urgently need it is the only way to prevent a future wave of evictions and displacement.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021 in CNBC

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