Most federal rental assistance money not being delivered to those in need

The U.S. Government has allocated $45 billion for rent relief since December 2020, but that money has barely made an impact, and with the eviction moratorium about to run out, it’s likely this assistance money will never be used for its intended purpose.

States, cities, and smaller municipalities have created more than 340 new programs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic to help distribute federal rental assistance dollars. However, according to Vox Media, the state programs, which have received the lion’s share of the funding, have only distributed a small percentage of the money they have received.

The problem has been that while the notion of providing billions of dollars in much needed rental assistance, the devil was in the details to make sure the right people who actually needed the aid got it.

That created a whole mess of red tape, forcing renters to provide proof of need and identity, something that the people in the most dire of circumstances are unable to produce. Additional problems are that while these programs were created and existed, not enough grassroots work was done to let the people know who needed the assistance that they were available to help.

As such, only a small percentage of those in need of rent relief even knew relief was available to them.

According to the National Multifamily Housing Council, a large majority of American renters made at least a partial rent payment in May.

However, because most people consider their rent the most important bill they have to pay, they often eschew other required payments, or put themselves into a worse-off financial situation. Just because the rent has been paid, doesn’t mean money wasn’t borrowed, or credit card debt didn’t pile up, or valuable possessions weren’t sold – just to scrape by for another month.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) eviction moratorium is set to expire at the end of June, barring another extension. With there being court cases across the country saying the CDC exceeded its authority by imposing the moratorium in the first place, another extension seems less likely.

This will force state and local governments to decide whether to keep their own moratoriums in place or have an onslaught of evictions begin as soon as July.

This appears to be a lose-lose situation for local governments. If they keep the moratoriums in place without the rental assistance money getting to the people who need it, more mom-and-pop property providers will fall behind on their mortgage payments without the rent coming in to supplement it. As such, many of these property owners will pull their property from being available to rent, trimming further an already slim inventory of affordable housing.

According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, 41% of all rental units in America are owned by small business housing providers operating on very slim profit margins. These rentals tend to be less expensive than single family units or larger, corporate-owned, multi-family complexes.

If they choose not to keep the moratoriums in place, evictions will skyrocket, backlog, and create mayhem, all the while many low-income individuals and/or families will have to find somewhere to sleep or risk homelessness.

Either way, it’s not an ideal situation. Finding ways to streamline these rental assistance dollars – and quickly – is the best path to stemming the rent crisis and ensuring that everyone can have a roof over their head.

About the American Property Owners Alliance
The American Property Owners Alliance (The Alliance) is a nonpartisan, non-profit organization created to protect and support property owners and pave the way for future property owners. Our mission is to educate property owners about federal issues, laws and policies; to advocate for owners’ rights and interests; and to mobilize, when necessary, to secure those rights and interests.
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