On Friday, on the heels of a federal judge ruling against the country’s eviction moratorium (the ruling has since been stayed and the moratorium remains active until the end of June, but things could change quickly), the U.S. Treasury announced billions of dollars in new rental assistance funds to help tenants remain in their homes. Alongside new funding, the agency announced rule changes that will make it easier for tenants to access help. Here’s what you need to know.
How Much Rental Assistance is Available?
The Treasury announced $21.6 billion in new rental assistance funds from the stimulus package on Friday. That brings the total rental assistance funds available to $46.5 billion. The funds will be distributed to individual states and territories to pass along to their residents.
How Have the Rental Assistance Rules Changed?
Along with the new funding, the Biden Administration and the Treasury changed the guidance for states to make it easier for renters to access funds. The changes include:
- Rental assistance programs can now offer assistance to tenants first, directly, without first reaching out to landlords. If they do choose to reach out to landlords first, they are encouraged to reach out to tenants 5-7 days afterwards (the guidance was originally 10-14 days).
- If landlords choose not to participate in the program, rental assistance programs are required (not just encouraged), to offer support to their tenants directly to tenants who want it.
- Renters who receive assistance cannot be evicted for nonpayment during the months they receive assistance. Rental assistance programs are required to prohibit eviction for nonpayment for the months that tenants receive assistance, and encouraged to prohibit it for 30-60 days after.
- Rental assistance programs are now allowed to verify renters’ income using general factors and available information, like the average income in their neighborhood, and are discouraged from requiring extra documentation or proof.
- Rental assistance programs are required to document their efforts to provide assistance to the lowest income residents first.
- Rental assistance programs are not allowed to discriminate against tenants living in government subsidized housing.
When Will the New Rental Assistance Be Available?
Unfortunately, with over 400 programs operating at various levels all over the U.S., the process for distributing funds has been disorganized at best. Only a sliver of the already-approved funds from earlier this spring have actually reached tenants. With the possibility of an eviction cliff this summer, we hope that things will move faster this round. We will keep you updated as we know more.
Conclusion: More Rental Assistance is Desperately Needed
With millions facing the possibility of eviction, more rental assistance will be welcome news for tenants. We will keep you updated on the latest news on the Skip App and blog.
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