DHRC Coronavirus Updates: September 16, 2022
NLIHC is maintaining a COVID-19/Housing and Homelessness News and Resource page here.
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
HUD’s Office of Affordable Housing Programs is holding a webinar on September 21 at 2 pm ET that will provide a basic overview of the HOME Investment Partnerships American Rescue Plan Program (HOME-ARP) and its specific displacement, relocation, and acquisition requirements and waivers. Learn more here.
Department of the Treasury
The U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) released a Notice Regarding Unobligated ERA1 Funds on September 13. The notice urges grantees to voluntarily return by September 26, 2022, ERA1 funds that they do not expect to obligate, so that Treasury may reallocate those funds to communities able to use them. Grantees may apply for additional reallocated ERA1 funds by September 26 by submitting a Request for Reallocated Funds through the Treasury portal.
According to the Eviction Lab, evictions in communities across the country are surpassing pre-pandemic levels. Houston – which lifted its eviction moratorium in July 2021 – saw 7,242 eviction filings this July, 51% above average. Tenants who cannot afford rent increases but also cannot afford to move are forced to choose between paying rent and covering basic necessities, like food and healthcare.
State and Local News
A list of state and local emergency rental assistance programs compiled by NLIHC is available here.
Though the City of Phoenix’s emergency rental assistance (ERA) funds have run out, the need for assistance remains high, with 1,000 people filing applications each month. While the city has distributed its ERA allocation, four other local agencies have $23 million in ERA available. The City of Phoenix is taking applications for the four other agencies.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted on September 13 to end pandemic-era tenant protections at the end of the year. Tenant advocates are concerned that thousands of low-income renters will be at risk of losing their housing at the beginning of 2023, and they are calling on county officials to enact permanent tenant protections before the COVID-19 rules expire. Without new permanent protections, advocates warn that Los Angeles will see a return to previous spikes in homelessness.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors directed its staff to begin an outreach campaign to ensure that renters and landlords are prepared for the rapidly approaching end of the pandemic-era tenant protections. Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Hilda Solis opposed the motion, calling such an outreach campaign premature and suggesting the board may consider extending some renter protections.
On August 24, Governor Gavin Newsom announced $694 million in Homekey awards that will produce over 2,500 units of housing. With this announcement, Homekey 2.0 has awarded nearly $1.9 billion in funding to 108 projects that will create over 6,600 units.
The California State Legislature passed a bill to create the Los Angeles County Affordable Housing Solutions Agency. To address the shortage of affordable housing, the bill lays out a plan to help build and preserve affordable housing, offer emergency rental assistance, and provide access to legal counsel for disputes with landlords.
Arapahoe County partially paused its ERA program. As of September 1, the county is only accepting applications from renters already in the court process in an attempt to catch up with its backlog of cases.
Orange County Commissioners voted on August 30 to launch a second emergency rental assistance (ERA) program on October 1, funded by the “American Rescue Plan Act.” The ERA2 program expands eligibility requirements to include tenants who have experienced rent increases of more than 10%. The program will continue to prioritize applicants facing imminent eviction.
DeKalb County is reopening applications for its emergency rental assistance program. Since the program launched in 2021, Dekalb County has distributed $52.8 million in rental and utility assistance to almost 4,900 families.
Iowa’s emergency rental response program has helped more than 15,000 renters avoid eviction. Iowa received $130 million in the first round of federal funding for the rental assistance program and expects to receive another $149 million, with Des Moines, Polk County, and Linn County each receiving separate funding. Advocates attribute the decrease in evictions in the last two years primarily to the rental assistance programs.
The Louisiana Illuminator reports that many Louisiana residents are having difficulty finding affordable housing coming out of the pandemic. According to Cashauna Hill, executive director of the Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center, service providers and advocates are seeing dramatic increases in homelessness across the state. Massive rent hikes and a lack of eviction protections for renters are contributing to the rise in homelessness across Louisiana.
New York rents are skyrocketing across the state, with residents reporting drastic rent increases and bidding wars for apartments. During the first year of the pandemic, roughly 336,000 New Yorkers left the city and left behind more than 67,300 vacant apartments in Manhattan alone. Eager to fill empty units, owners offered COVID-19 discounts to individuals who would otherwise not be able to afford them. As these discounts expire and residents with higher incomes return to the city, tenants are being forced to leave due to exorbitant rent hikes. A report from Street Easy found that tenants priced out of their homes likely accounted for a third of the units on the market in March, April, and May.
Data from the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office show court-ordered evictions are rising steadily and inching closer to pre-pandemic rates. Since the end of the federal eviction moratorium in August 2021, eviction filings received by the sheriff’s office have more than tripled, nearing 900 eviction filings in August 2022. Mecklenburg County residents can receive emergency rental assistance from the county’s RAMP CharMeck program.
The Columbus City Council recently allocated $9.5 million to be distributed locally through the IMPACT Community Action Agency for rent and utility assistance. The funds will be used to provide emergency rental and utility assistance, supportive services, and targeted outreach to Columbus residents that have not yet accessed the emergency rental assistance programs. In addition to the city’s allocation, Franklin County has provided more than $18.2 million in federal rental assistance through IMPACT.
With the end of COVID-19-era eviction moratoriums and the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, evictions in Pittsburgh have returned to pre-pandemic levels. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the amount renters have to pay back to landlords after eviction proceedings is now noticeably higher in some areas of the city. District Judge Mik Pappas found that the average judgment amount in July 2019 was $3,287. In July 2022, it was nearly $4,262 – nearly $1,000 more.
Richland County is accepting a final round of applications for its Emergency Rental Assistance Program through September 30. The county has approved more than $26 million in assistance for more than 4,000 households.
The Vermont Emergency Rental Assistance Program (VERAP) will stop accepting new applications and will reduce rental assistance for existing beneficiaries based on their incomes on October 1. State officials attribute the abrupt reduction in the program’s scope to the depletion of funding. According to the Vermont State Housing Authority, 3,015 households will no longer be eligible for assistance on September 30. Another 5,396 households will see benefit reductions at that time and will be pushed out entirely on November 30. The program will shut down completely on March 31, 2023. Learn more here.
Likewise, Vermont’s transitional housing program, which currently houses approximately 1,500 people in hotels and motels, will stop taking new applications beginning October 1. Ever since the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) stopped paying for the state’s transitional housing program on June 30, the program has been supported using the same pot of funding paying for rental assistance. Advocates warn that hundreds of Vermonters will be out on the streets when the program ends.
Non-congregate sheltering for people experiencing homelessness is coming to an end in Augusta County this month when federal COVID-19 funding expires. While the county used other funding streams to provide non-congregate shelter for unhoused residents, federal funds were a major funding source for the program. The Valley Community Services Board is working with other local organizations to find housing for individuals residing in hotels and motels, but the shortage of affordable and available housing in the region is making this difficult.
The Columbian reports that demand for rental assistance is outpacing available resources in Clark County as eviction filings continue to climb. Eviction filings in Clark County are projected to be 5.2% lower than 2016 levels – far higher than the state’s nearly 50% decrease. While the county has only about 6.6% of the state’s population, nearly 11% of Washington’s eviction cases occur in Clark County.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Department of Housing and Urban Development
Information about Vaccinating Your Child (Updated)
Department of Treasury
ERA1 Reallocation Guidance – Updated September 6 (Treasury added footnote 3)