September 26, 2023

A rally to prevent evictions in Massachusetts in front of the Boston Housing Court on October 15, 2020.

MediaNews Group / Boston Herald via Getty Images | MediaNews Group | Getty Images

Biden administration officials on Wednesday urged states and cities to act swiftly to provide federal aid to the millions of households that are behind on rents due to the pandemic.

“We must do everything we can to prevent heartbreak for families and economic hardship for landlords,” said Gene Sperling, a senior adviser to President Joe Biden, at the White House eviction prevention summit.

The national eviction ban will expire later this month, although more than 11 million Americans, or 16% of US renters, say they still haven’t collected their home payments, according to a recent analysis by The Center of budget and policy priorities.

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In the last two major stimulus packages, Congress provided more than $ 45 billion in rental subsidies, but by the end of June only $ 3 billion had been given to families, according to the Treasury Department.

Proponents attribute the slow adoption of aid to complicated and cumbersome application requirements implemented by hundreds of programs tasked with distributing the funds. Before the pandemic, the US had no infrastructure to provide rental subsidies and prevent evictions.

Many landlords have also declined the financing because they don’t want to agree to the terms, which may include a ban on eviction of the tenant or an increase in rent for a specific time window.

To combat these problems, the Biden administration encourages programs that seek aid to take their word for it as much as possible rather than requiring documents. Currently, just over half of the programs do this.

“This is contrary to the clear instructions and guidance of the White House and has the effect of both slowing the process down for everyone and of the most weed out some of the lowest-income people,” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition .

The White House also said programs should allow direct payments to tenants if their landlords decline the relief and should allow tenants to use those funds to secure new homes when needed.