As state and local officials struggle to distribute $46 billion in rental help to tenants and landlords across the country, a federal ban on evictions is set to expire on July 31, placing millions of renters at risk of being evicted in upcoming weeks.
The Aspen Institute and the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project released a new study on Wednesday, July 21, showing more than 15 million people in the United States are behind on their rent. As a result, they will be evicted when the moratorium expires.
The extended emergency protection ends just as top health officials warn that a potential third wave is on the way as the highly contagious Delta variant fuels increased cases. “These renters may face eviction, civil lawsuits for unpaid rent, and aggressive debt collection—crises that will continue to cause harm years into the future,” the study said.
State and local governments have struggled to distribute $46 billion in rental assistance to tenants and landlords, and families across the country are struggling to make ends meet. On average, households owe their landlords $3,000 in unpaid rent, Fox Business reported.
Last week, the Treasury Department stated that a portion of the available relief had been distributed, with an estimated $3 billion of the $46 billion allocated in the first half of the year, or about 6.6 percent of the $46 billion programs intended to keep millions of renters in their homes.
Only 1.2 million of the 15 million families in need have received assistance.
“State and local governments must do more to accelerate aid to struggling renters and expand programs to meet the scale of assistance needed,” the Treasury said, adding, “While some state and local programs are increasingly reaching households in need, others lag far behind, and many programs have just launched in recent weeks. Money is available in every state to help renters at risk of eviction—and the urgency has never been greater.”
The amount of money tenants and landlords receive is determined by several factors, including their income and location. Individuals may be able to cover their rent starting in March 2020 in some situations. However, many governments and localities lacked the necessary equipment to distribute the money, and as a result, lag in doing so.
On Thursday, the Biden administration said that it would let a countrywide prohibition on evictions expire on Saturday, claiming that it cannot continue the protection after the Supreme Court indicated that it could only be extended until the end of the month, according to KMBC.
Biden called on “Congress to extend the eviction moratorium to protect such vulnerable renters and their families without delay.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued the moratorium in September of last year.
“Given the recent spread of the delta variant, including among those Americans both most likely to face evictions and lacking vaccinations, President Biden would have strongly supported a decision by the CDC to further extend this eviction moratorium to protect renters at this moment of heightened vulnerability,” the White House said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has made clear that this option is no longer available.”
According to Nolo.com, a legal website, several states, such as California and New York, have enacted eviction moratoriums that extend beyond July. They estimate that roughly 40 states lack tenant protections.