30% of Pandemic Rental Programs Have Ended, Study Shows

Short-Term Programs Fall Far Short as Eviction Prospects Loom

Tenements in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, New York City.

Busa Photography/Getty Images 

Even though millions of households continue to struggle to pay their rent, 30% of the emergency rental assistance programs created or expanded by state and local governments because of the COVID-19 pandemic have already been shut down, a new report says. 

Of the 438 programs tracked by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), 132 have been closed, the coalition said in a report released Tuesday. And yet as many as 13.9 million households that owe as much as $18.8 billion in rent are at risk of eviction, according to an analysis of early October Census Bureau data by the investment firm Stout. 

The pandemic was particularly hard on low-wage workers when it crushed the economy earlier this year, and the recovery in the job market has slowed in recent months. That, coupled with the end of supplemental unemployment insurance from the federal government, has left families struggling to cope well beyond the time frame many rental aid programs were designed to cover, NLIHC said. 

Even at full capacity, the 438 rental assistance programs, which rely heavily on funding provided by the CARES Act, have fallen far short of the need, the coalition said. The programs with readily available funding information contributed $3.9 billion in assistance, a small fraction of the $100 billion the NLIHC estimated would be required to support low-income renters for a year. 

While an order from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) forbids landlords from evicting renters financially hurt by the pandemic, the moratorium expires at the end of the year, at which point renters must pay any overdue rent plus penalties. What’s more, landlords can still start eviction proceedings in the meantime. By January 2021, renter households could be short nearly $30 billion in rent, Stout estimates. 

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