US Treasury says it’s on track to exhaust most rent assistance funds by mid-2022

Residential homes in the Magnolia neighborhood are seen below the Olympic Mountains and low fog above Smith Cove in Seattle, Washington, U.S. May 14, 2021. REUTERS/Karen Ducey

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WASHINGTON, March 30 (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury officials are urging municipalities to divert some of their share of $350 billion in state and local COVID-19 aid to help struggling tenants stay in their homes as the emergency rental assistance is running out of funds this summer.

The Treasury said Wednesday that the $46.6 billion program to prevent evictions had paid out or obligated more than $30 billion to tenants and landlords through the end of February, and was set to run out. the “vast majority” of its funding by the middle of the year.

The program, launched in January 2021, struggled for the first few months to get in place because communities previously lacked the infrastructure to prevent evictions and advise tenants facing job loss.

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To avoid an abrupt cut in rental aid funding, the Treasury said some state, local and tribal governments have allocated some $3.75 billion of their state and local fiscal stimulus fund allocations for rent, l mortgage and utility assistance as well as other evictions and prevention service.

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The rental assistance program, enacted in two tranches in December 2020 and March 2021, has kept eviction rates during the pandemic well below historical averages, Assistant US Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said in a statement. .

“As these emergency funds run out, now is the time for states and local governments to leverage this infrastructure to provide services such as right-to-lawyer programs and housing counselors that will help families to avoid economic scars long after COVID-19 is behind – sight mirror.”

The Emergency Rent Assistance Program reported about $1.93 billion spent on rent, utilities and arrears in February, compared with $1.94 billion in January and $2.45 billion in December 2021. It helped 462,552 households in February.

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Reporting by David Lawder Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Chris Reese

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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