Politics Treasury to release more rental aid to avert evictions
Internet funding rule could favor rural areas over cities
Cities and urban counties across the U.S. are raising concerns that a recent rule from President Joe Biden's administration could preclude them from tapping into $350 billion of coronavirus relief aid to expand high-speed internet connections. Biden has set a goal of delivering fast, affordable internet to every American household. The massive American Rescue Plan took a step toward that by including broadband infrastructure among the primary uses for pandemic aid flowing to each city, county and state. But an interim rule published by the U.S. Treasury Department has narrowed the broadband eligibility.
The Treasury Department said Tuesday itto states and localities that have been the most effective at delivering the assistance, in a new bid to speed up the housing rescue.
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.
Moving target on eviction ban is 'whiplash' for landlords
Since the beginning of the pandemic, property owner Matthew Haines said he has lost a quarter of a million dollars in rental income from tenants who did not pay him rent. © John Moore/Getty Images An apartment maintenance man changes the lock of an apartment after constables posted an eviction order on October 7, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. Thousands of court-ordered evictions continue nationwide despite a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) moratorium for renters impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
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.
Cori Bush, Elizabeth Warren will introduce bill to give HHS power to impose eviction moratoriums
Progressive lawmakers will introduce legislation this week that will give the HHS the authority to create federal eviction moratoriums.WASHINGTON – Progressive lawmakers will introduce legislation this week that will give the Department of Health and Human Services the authority to create federal eviction moratoriums – pushing back against a recent decision by the Supreme Court that ruled the agency did not have the authority to do so.
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
States have passed out only some of the $46.5 billion in Emergency Rental Assistance that Congress approved. This is no way to fight homelessness.On Monday, paying for housing became even more daunting for about 7.5 million Americans who lost $300 a week when federally funded emergency unemployment programs ended. The cut in unemployment aid came less than two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to end the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's eviction moratorium.
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.
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.
GOP senator: Buying Treasury bonds 'foolish' amid standoff over debt ceiling, taxes .
Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) suggested Tuesday it was "foolish" to buy U.S. Treasury bonds amid a standoff between Republicans and Democrats over raising the debt ceiling and President Biden's sprawling economic agenda.In a Tuesday briefing with reporters, Scott asserted that Republican lawmakers will not vote to avert a default on the national debt and expressed doubts that Democrats could win enough political support to pass new tax hikes to offset spending.