The federal government distributed more in rental assistance in June than it did in the first five months of 2021 combined, as it raced to provide help to those in need before a nationwide eviction ban expires later this month.
More than $1.5 billion in funds from the Emergency Rental Assistance program was handed out to eligible households in June, according to Treasury Department data released Wednesday, by far the largest single-month amount since the program began in January. About 85% more households received funds last month than in May, with 290,000 getting assistance, up from 160,000 in May and 100,000 in April.
“This represents significant progress, but there is still much further work to go,” a Treasury statement said.
Despite the uptick in distribution of funds, the amount given out so far represents less than 6% of the $46.5 billion in aid allocated to the Emergency Rental Assistance program by Congress as part of the last two stimulus packages. Time is of the essence, with a federal moratorium on evictions expiring in less than two weeks, on July 31. More than 3.6 million adults—out of 7.4 million who reported being behind on rent—said they are “somewhat” or “very” likely to be evicted in the next two months, according to a Census survey that was taken June 23 through July 5.
With this in mind, the White House held a summit Wednesday focused on efforts to prevent evictions, including speeding up the process to get emergency rental assistance to families that need it.
The Treasury blamed the rental assistance program’s slow start on the fact that the federal, state, tribal, and local governments had to develop “a new national infrastructure for rental assistance and eviction prevention that did not previously exist.” Now that this framework is in place, the pace of distribution should pick up, the agency said, although its funding is meant to last through 2025.
The Supreme Court narrowly decided late last month to deny a legal challenge to a nationwide evictions ban, in part to allow more time for rental assistance funds to be distributed. The ban is in its final days now, as the Centers for Disease Control, which issued the moratorium, has said it will not extend the ban beyond July.
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