Nearly 90% of the federally approved rental assistance funds aimed to prevent evictions amid the coronavirus pandemic have not been distributed, according to the Treasury Department.
Out of the $46.5 billion Emergency Rental Assistance, only around $5.1 billion has been distributed, coming out to approximately 11%.
July saw a roughly 15% increase in the number of households served, compared to the previous month, “and more than double the number of households served in May,” the Treasury Department said in a Wednesday press release.
The 340,000 households served last month received nearly $1.7 billion in rental and utility assistance.
The department blamed “processing delays” as a challenge for getting the assistance to households.
“One of the biggest challenges many state and local government programs continue to face in getting assistance to renters and landlords is application processing delays,” the release said, later adding, “many programs that were slower to distribute assistance in prior months saw notable increases this month as the investments they made in developing infrastructure paid off.”
During a later White House press briefing, Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced steps the administration is taking to “speed up the delivery of Emergency Rental Assistance.”
“As the president has made clear, no state or locality should delay in distributing resources that had been provided by Congress to meet family’s critical needs, and we want to continue to take steps to make that easier,” she said.
Psaki explained that the Treasury Department is strengthening existing guidance while implementing new policies to accelerate distribution.
The Department of Agriculture will be working with owners of 400,000 rental units in USDA backed properties to mitigate any evictions.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development will ensure public housing and extend eviction periods from 14 to 30 days, while the Department of Veteran Affairs will be expanding rental assistance to “at risk veterans” in all 50 states.
Wednesday’s release comes over three weeks since the federal moratorium on evictions ended in July.
In June, the Supreme Court ruled 4-5 allowing the Centers for Disease and Prevention to extend the moratorium until July 31, saying that it would be up to Congress for further extensions.
Congress was unable to extend the moratorium before the deadline, prompting the Biden administration to launch a targeted moratorium on evictions three days later.
On Monday, the Biden Administration urged the Supreme Court to keep the ban on residential evictions in place, arguing the CDC acted within their authority by renewing it.
Several landlord groups are challenging the CDC’s moratorium, scheduled to end Oct. 3, saying, “Congress never gave the CDC the staggering amount of power it claims.”