A $46 billion federal program established by Congress to prevent evictions during the coronavirus pandemic got off to a slow start last year but is now disbursing funds so swiftly that several states are running out of funds, putting millions of suffering renters at risk.
According to the Treasury Department, the Biden administration announced that 665,000 households received assistance through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program in November, the highest number ever for any month, bringing the total distributed or planned to be spent to between $25 billion and $30 billion.
However, as a result of their success, some states, notably New York, Texas, and Oregon, have virtually depleted their portion of federal funds for the program, the NY Times reported.
Tenants still need rental assistance
The new figures also highlight the fact that the federal government’s largest-ever effort to avoid evictions was never meant to be a long-term solution. Unless Congress renews funding, which is very unlikely, funds for struggling tenants may soon evaporate.
Those who have gotten rental help in the past can keep it. Renters who wish to file for the first time or reapply, on the other hand, maybe out of luck. Many states had hoped for a big boost this month when the Treasury Department moved $1.1 billion from states that were late in delivering funding.
Instead, the White House encouraged Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, Louisiana, and other states to provide $875 million to towns and counties in their states that most needed it. As a result, states that had sought additional financing were only given a limited amount of money.
How to qualify for rental assistance?
On Tuesday, the city of Orlando will begin accepting emergency rental assistance applications. The financial support, according to the city, is for everyone who has been financially harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to WFTV via MSN, a household must meet the following criteria to be eligible for rental assistance, according to the city:
- Include one or more people who have been eligible for unemployment benefits, have had their family income reduced, have suffered considerable expenditures, or have encountered other financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, whether directly or indirectly;
- Include one or more people who are in danger of being homeless or having their living situation disrupted;
- Have a household income of less than 80% of the area median income ($61,050 for a family of four), with priority given to households with a household income of less than 50% of the area median income ($38,150 for a family of four) or a household member who has been unemployed for more than 90 days; and
- Submit proof of occupancies in the rented residence, such as a copy of the lease, rental agreement, rent receipts, proof of regular rental payments, or any other papers that demonstrate occupancy.