Media coverage

The Washington Post: The $50 Billion Race to Save America’s Renters From Eviction

April 12, 2021

The Washington Post reports on Treasury Department officials being given nearly $50 billion in emergency aid for renters who have fallen behind, and are racing to distribute it through hundreds of state, local and tribal housing agencies, some of which have not created programs yet.

The Washington Post, Apr 8, 2021: The $50 billion race to save America’s renters from eviction: With judges ruling against a federal eviction ban, pressure mounts on the Biden administration to distribute billions in aid to renters

“We are running the Emergency Rental Assistance Program every day like we’re going to lose the moratorium tomorrow,” said a Treasury Department official.

The idea is to get the money to renters before courts nationwide begin processing evictions again.

Despite the unprecedented federal effort to protect tenants, landlords have been chipping away at the moratorium in court. Six lawsuits have made their way before federal judges — with three ruling in support of the ban and three calling it illegal.

The year-old federal moratorium, which has now been extended through June 30, has probably kept hundreds of thousands or millions of people from being evicted from their apartments and homes. More than 10 million Americans are behind on rent, according to Moody’s, easily topping the 7 million who lost their homes to foreclosure in the 2008 housing bust.

“Those who have fallen behind in their rent are among the most vulnerable members of society: more likely to be unemployed, with less income and less education,” experts from Moody’s wrote in January.

Tenants are already increasingly subject to the rules of their local jurisdictions, as some have halted eviction proceedings altogether while others allow landlords to file eviction papers or to complete evictions for non-pandemic reasons.

Some landlords are aggressively filing to evict residents while others are holding off.

“We have seen dramatically different policies from different landlords,” said Jim Baker of the Private Equity Stakeholder Project, which has reviewed thousands of eviction filings nationwide.

He said some appear to be targeting apartment communities predominantly populated by racial minorities, a disparity the Eviction Lab documented.

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