Emergency Assistance Has Helped Renters, but Hurdles Remain

Research shows pandemic rent relief programs made a significant difference for struggling renters.

1 minute read

April 8, 2022, 5:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

"Since the start of the pandemic, renter households across the US have been more likely to lose income and fall behind on their housing payments," writes Alexander Hermann. "In response, federal interventions have helped to stabilize households’ balance sheets and prevent widespread displacement." As Hermann notes, "More recently, ERA funds—used to pay back rent and utilities—have become increasingly important for struggling renters as other forms of assistance"—such as eviction moratoriums—"wane."

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, "About 13 percent of renter households applied for emergency rental assistance to cover unpaid rent or utility bills between August 2021 and February 2022, including about two-fifths of the 10 percent of renters who reported being behind on their rent at the time of the survey."

The blog post provides more details about who applied for rent relief and how funds have been distributed. While $24 billion in assistance funds remain unspent, Hermann draws attention to the continued barriers facing renters applying for assistance. "Continued lack of awareness, lack of in-home internet access, concerns about eligibility, onerous documentation requirements, and landlord willingness and awareness have all prevented ERA from reaching more eligible households, according to a recent analysis by the National Low Income Housing Coalition."

Wednesday, April 6, 2022 in Joint Center for Housing Studies

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