stimulus checks that the IRS started sending out in recent days have attracted significant attention, given how much money they’re providing. Also, because of the fact that there will be subsequent monthly waves through the end of this year. But it’s not the only stimulus effort still to come during the balance of 2021, not by a long shot. The same $1.9 trillion stimulus legislation from March that made these checks possible, for example, has also cleared the way for the federal government to bring similar resources to bear to promote rental assistance efforts in the US.
In this post, we’ll look at federal efforts along these lines. Although, it’s something states have been stepping up to tackle, as well.
Rental assistance stimulus
One of the first things we should note is that the stimulus law President Biden signed in March actually added to similar aid included in President Trump’s December stimulus package. According to the US Treasury Dept., the latter, “provided $25 billion of federal relief to be administered by the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program for disbursement to existing state and local government programs.”
Biden’s stimulus package, meanwhile, provided another $21.6 billion. That money is for “states, territories, and local governments to assist households that are unable to pay rent and utilities due to the COVID-19 crisis.”
This, as we said, is on top of what states like California are doing.
SAN FRANCISCO — Swimming in cash from an unexpected budget surplus and federal stimulus money, California is planning rent forgiveness on a scale never seen before in the United States. https://t.co/cxxiLV2VoX
— Mister Jones (@deuceohsixx) June 23, 2021
And not just the Golden State. Texas has also offered rental assistance going as far back as March 13, 2020. And in Illinois, that state’s Housing Development Authority is overseeing the administration of $1.5 billion in rental assistance. There, tenants and landlords can apply for grants of up to $25,000 to cover as many as 15 months of rent payments between June of last year through August of this year.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition maintains a list of a few hundred rental assistance programs around the country that can help get some of the federal rental assistance stimulus money to people who need it. Generally, you have to be a renter who’s having a hard time paying your rent and/or your utility bills. And the reason has to be because of the pandemic.
Eviction bans and state aid
The state-by-state rollout of all this rental assistance, however, has reportedly been slower than people would like. Partly because of complicated paperwork and other related factors.
Last month, the Biden administration extended a nationwide moratorium on evictions. That ban will remain in place until the end of this month. According to the US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, some 6.4 million American households were behind on paying rent. That number was around 3.2 million people by June 7, according to the US Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey. Specifically, that more recent group of people estimated they’d be evicted at some point over the next two months.
We should add that all of the rental assistance noted above was conceived because the assumption is that allowing people to be evicted would have the side effect of helping spread COVID-19. With people, that is, living on the street as well as crammed in shelters, and the like, per the AP.