The United States Treasury Department announced on Wednesday that state and local officials only distributed $1.5 billion worth of rental assistance last month amid the approaching eviction moratorium that is scheduled to end later this month.
In the first half of 2021, officials have only distributed $3 billion of the entire $45 billion rental assistance fund. The number accounts for only 6.6% of the available financial assistance that aims to keep millions of American renters in their homes. The Treasury Department said that in June, it served 290,000, an increase of 100,000 from the previous month's 160,000.
Rental Assistance Fund
In a news release, the department revealed that the relief program has reached only a fraction of the households that were reported to be "very likely to face eviction in the next two months." The department urged state and local governments to speed up their distribution of rental assistance funds to aid struggling renters amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Authorities added that despite some regions slowly increasing the number of households they provide rental assistance to, many others are lagging. The department said that the money is readily available to allow renters to keep their homes, arguing that the urgency of the matter has never been greater, Fox Business reported.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities conducted an analysis that found there are about 110 million Americans living in rental households. There is also an estimated 15%, or 11 million renters, who are behind on their payments and are facing risks of eviction.
United States President Joe Biden's administration extended the federal pause on evictions by one month by the end of June. Initially, the pause was set to expire on June 30 but was moved to July 31. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put out a news release saying the decision would be the final extension of the moratorium.
Congress approved the rental assistance fund that aimed to support renters and landlords between December 2020 and March 2021. The exact amount that residents can expect to receive was based on their income and the location where they live. The program provided enough funds to cover renters from as far back as March 13, 2020, and included unpaid utilities and, in some cases, future rent, CBS News reported.
Expiration of Eviction Moratorium
Biden's administration on Wednesday urged states and cities to speed up the distribution of the relief funds. At the White House Eviction Prevention Summit, Gene Sperling, a senior advisor to President Biden, said the country had to do everything in its power to ensure that families across the United States are kept from being evicted.
Many advocates have criticized the slow release of the rental assistance aid, arguing complicated application requirements that hundreds of programs responsible for distributing the funds implemented. There was no base infrastructure for distributing rental aid and eviction prevention in place in the country before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Landlords across the nation have refused the funding, citing terms they were not willing to agree with. The relief program included a ban on evicting tenants or even raising the rent for renters for a period, CNBC reported.