The economy is recovering from the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, but the situation for troubled tenants is not. In the past six months, more than 11 million renters have reported they are behind.
This lack of progress is mainly due to how slow states have been in providing federal rental subsidies to those in need. In the last two major stimulus packages, passed in December last year and then in March, Congress provided a total of $ 46 billion for renters and their landlords.
However, only around $ 4.2 billion of that money has reached households, according to a new analysis by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
Renters are quicker to see help in some states than others.
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Texas has already managed to distribute more than half of its first state rental aid, while South Carolina has spent less than 2%.
A request for comment from the South Carolina state program was not immediately responded to.
Coalition researchers point to a number of reasons why states are so slow to distribute funds.
Programs across the country are understaffed and overwhelmed by the volume of applications. Insufficient range and tedious documentation requirements were also obstacles. A recent study by the Urban Institute showed that less than half of the tenants even know about federal aid.
Knowing for help is only part of the fight.
Andrew Aurand, vice president of research for the Coalition of Housing, said he had come across a 45-page motion. Another required tenants to document their income for the past six months.
“They ask for things that many tenants don’t have, like the landlord’s email address,” said Dan Rose, assistant professor of sociology at Winston-Salem State University and organizer of Housing Justice Now. “Officials are more concerned that so-called fraudsters will get this money than the people who really need it.”
Suffering tenants have recently been given a little more time to get state aid and before they have to fear eviction.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a new eviction moratorium last week after the previous one expired on July 31. The protection is valid until October 3rd and for places where Covid rates remain high. That currently covers about 80% of the US counties.
While the moratorium is pausing the eviction crisis, it’s rental subsidy that can stop it, said Emily Benfer, visiting law professor at Wake Forest University.
“It is imperative that cities and states provide rental assistance to vulnerable communities as soon as possible to prevent evictions and the public health consequences in all of our communities,” she said.