National Eviction Protection Officially Over — Here’s What To Do Now
(Conservative Insider) – Last August, when the National Eviction Protection moratorium was lifted, there were an estimated 6.5 million households behind on rent and facing a heightened risk of eviction. Many continue to struggle. The good news is there is help available through a number of rental assistance programs. Here is a look at the programs and the federal funding that remains in place to provide housing assistance for those who continue to feel the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
What Was the National Eviction Protection Ban?
The National Eviction Protection moratorium was put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in order to prevent landlords from evicting tenants during the pandemic shutdowns for being unable to pay their rent. The moratorium prevented evictions based solely on the payment of rent, but allowed evictions to continue to take place for other reasons.
Unfortunately, while the eviction ban provided protections during the peak of the pandemic-related shutdowns, many people have continued to struggle with finding a job that will pay enough to allow them to get caught up — and stay caught up — with rent, utilities, and other household expenses.
How Has the Federal Government Responded Since the Lifting of the Ban?
There were several federal housing assistance programs in place even before the pandemic, and those programs are still in place. Additionally, Congress approved a $25 billion Covid-19 relief package in December 2020 to provide additional emergency rental assistance through the creation of the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program. In March 2021, an additional $21.55 billion was added to the pot to fund ERA.
The ERA program is administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury. The department allots the funding available to state and local programs, in order to allow individuals seeking the funding to do so through local offices and in accordance with criteria established at a state or regional level. There are currently over 420 programs available to assist individuals with paying their rent, and more than 80 percent of these programs are accepting new applicants.
- More than half of these programs provide assistance with household expenses other than rent. Over a quarter of the programs provide assistance with internet costs, and many even provide help with relocation.
- One out of every five state programs administered by ERA allow applicants to self-report income and over half allow applicants to self-report hardships faced as a result of Covid-19.
The Department of Treasury offers a database of the programs that are still open and a description of the benefits these programs offer.
Who Is Eligible for Rental Assistance?
The programs utilizing ERA funding have eligibility requirements that depend on local or state rules. Generally, at least one person in the household must be eligible for unemployment benefits, and the household must be facing hardships related to the pandemic.
Individuals who were already obtaining rental assistance through HUD, such as they live in public (HUD) housing or receiving HUD vouchers to assist with rent and have suffered a decrease in wages or job hours as a result of the pandemic should report that information through the process of income recertification. Doing so can either temporarily increase income-based housing subsidy payments, or reduce income-based rent.
Find Out What Help Is Available Soon
With several states intending on closing their ERA programs this spring or summer, there is no time like the present to begin learning about and applying for the rental assistance that is available. Individuals also facing eviction due to their inability to pay rent are urged to talk with their landlords about the issue and see if they will agree to a repayment plan for the rent that is due.
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