A website launched Wednesday makes it easier to connect with a federal program that pays the rent for financially struggling tenants.
The Rental Assistance Finder website, launched Wednesday by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, lets visitors select the state and county where they live, then provides contact information to the state or local program that covers their area. Struggling renters can then apply for help paying rent, utility bills, and moving expenses.
The first-of-its-kind Emergency Rental Assistance program, introduced in December, is available to help pay up to 18 months of rent due as far back as March 13, 2020. But distributing the aid has been slow, and only $3 billion had been paid through June, the U.S. Treasury said. Local officials say efforts to distribute the money have been hindered by bureaucratic tie-ups, tenant difficulties with completing the application, a lack of knowledge of the program, and even the belief of some eligible applicants that it’s too good to be true.
“The Rental Assistance Finder will make it easier for renters and landlords to locate the financial assistance available in their area,” said CFPB Acting Director Dave Uejio in a statement. “People across the country are already receiving billions of dollars in assistance, and with this new tool we hope even more renters and landlords will take advantage of this emergency relief. This money is a win-win for both landlords and renters and a better outcome for all than costly, needless evictions.”
Connecting struggling tenants with rental assistance is especially urgent because a federal moratorium against evictions expires at the end of the month. According to the latest census poll, taken June 23 through July 5, 7.4 million adults in renter households are behind on their rent. Of these, 3.6 million consider themselves likely to be evicted in the next two months, the Census Bureau said. That will translate into about 482,000 eviction filings and 262,000 actual evictions when the clock runs out, real estate firm Zillow estimated Wednesday.
The new site is the centerpiece of an effort launched Wednesday by the White House, several federal agencies, and major corporations to raise awareness about the rent aid program.
Have a question, comment, or story to share? You can reach Diccon at firstname.lastname@example.org.