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Politics Treasury to release more rental aid to avert evictions

07:40  15 september  2021
07:40  15 september  2021 Source:   politico.com

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The Treasury Department said Tuesday it plans to award the remaining $13 billion in federal rental aid to states and localities that have been the most effective at delivering the assistance, in a new bid to speed up the housing rescue.

a man wearing a suit and tie: “Treasury is happy to provide these state and local government programs with additional resources to support Americans in need of rental assistance,” said Treasury Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo. © Greg Nash/Pool via AP “Treasury is happy to provide these state and local government programs with additional resources to support Americans in need of rental assistance,” said Treasury Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo.

Houston, Philadelphia and New Orleans are among the cities expected to receive additional aid. State and local programs that have “substantially expended” their first round of funding and obligated at least 75 percent of their second round will be eligible for more money, Treasury said.

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Congress authorized $46.5 billion in emergency rental assistance to keep tenants housed during the pandemic, but the program has been plagued by bottlenecks at the state and local level for months. Just over 10 percent of the total funding had been distributed to renters and landlords by the end of July. State and local governments have varied widely in their ability to quickly disburse the funds, with places like Texas far outpacing stragglers in South Carolina and New York.

The sluggish delivery of aid has become an even more urgent issue for the Biden administration after the Supreme Court last month struck down a nationwide eviction ban.

The new process will act as both carrot and stick, according to Treasury, by helping successful programs continue to meet community needs while laggards face the prospect of running out of money in the coming months.

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Video: Why are cities and states still sitting on rental aid funds? (MSNBC)

The first $25 billion of rental assistance Congress passed in December has been fully allocated by Treasury to state and local programs. The department has also allocated $8.6 billion of the second tranche of funding, leaving about $13 billion still in federal coffers.

“Treasury is happy to provide these state and local government programs with additional resources to support Americans in need of rental assistance,” said Treasury Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo. “We are also committed to reallocating resources to ensure assistance reaches a struggling tenants and landlords during the pandemic.”

Nearly 50 grantees responsible for disbursing federal funds had spent more than 70 percent of their first allocations by July 31, according to the department.

To avoid housing eviction crisis, states must distribute federal rental assistance faster

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Treasury highlighted a handful of jurisdictions it expects to give more money, including Houston and Harris County, Texas, which had disbursed 92 percent of its initial batch of funding by the end of July. Texas, a state with relatively few tenant protections, has emerged as an unlikely poster child for the program.

Philadelphia will also receive new funds, the department said, noting the city had built an efficient website and database that cross-references data with public housing authorities and local utility companies. The system was designed to reduce documentation requirements and make the application process easier.

Treasury also singled out New Orleans for its community-awareness efforts to engage small landlords; Leon County, Fla., for the simplicity of its application; and Des Moines, Iowa, for the way it designed its program, which is connected to the local court system and provides real-time support to tenants facing evictions, among others.

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