The Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs (BHUA) Committee Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development on July 20 held a hybrid hearing titled “Safe at Home: Preserving and Improving Federally Assisted Housing.” The hearing addressed health and safety risks that exist in federally assisted housing, including lead, radon, mold, fire hazards, lack of safety equipment, overcrowding, and the effects of unsafe homes on families and children. Members of the subcommittee and panelists described how COVID-19 has exacerbated these issues and discussed the legislation and funding needed to adequately address them.
Representative James Clyburn (D-SC), chair of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, sent letters on July 19 to corporate landlords Invitation Homes, Pretium Partners, Ventron Management, and the Siegel Group requesting information about their high rates of evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Together, the four companies have filed for over 5,000 evictions during the pandemic. Court records and news reports show these companies have filed to evict tenants protected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eviction moratorium, as well as tenants who have applied for or received emergency rental assistance to pay rental arrears.
Are you or someone you know an exceptional member of the affordable housing industry with a perspective that would benefit the Coalition? OCAH is seeking nominations for candidates to serve on the 2022 Board of Directors. There are four open seats on the board. Nominations will be accepted until Friday, August 20th. Apply today. OCAH Board of Directors Nomination Form
The White House hosted a second virtual eviction prevention convening on July 21 to help municipalities quickly deliver rental assistance and develop community-specific eviction-prevention plans. The convening highlighted best practices and actions taken by cities since the first White House Eviction Prevention Summit on June 30, which featured a public plenary with key administration officials and a series of breakout sessions with teams from nearly 50 cities to develop eviction prevention action plans for their local areas (see Memo, 7/6).
The CDC eviction moratorium will end on July 31, 2021. But the emergency resources available to help landlords and tenants struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to be available indefinitely!
The City of Tulsa’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) administered by Restore Hope continues to be accepting applications. Almost $8 million in rental assistance has been distributed. Eligible tenants can receive up to 12 months of back rent and 3 months of forward for up to 15 months of total assistance. There is no monetary cap on the amount of financial assistance a household can receive. If a tenant is evicted and removed, the funds can no longer be used to pay back or forward rent to the landlord because the tenant is no longer occupying the property. Please keep in mind that, while the moratorium is ending, landlords may not be able to receive ERAP payments for tenants who have been evicted and removed. Tenants can apply online at: http://erap.restorehope.org.
Due to the widespread financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Restore Hope has received a large number of applications. Restore Hope is diligently reviewing applications – up to 400 applications a day – but landlords and tenants may be experiencing delays. You can reach out to me for assistance in checking the status of an application or check the status online: Check the Emergency Rental Assistance Status – NMA Portal (restorehope.org)
Landlords participating in the City of Tulsa’s Gold Star Landlord Program will receive prioritized processing of ERAP applications, you can find more information about the Gold Star Program at: http://www.cityoftulsa.org/landlords.
If you need assistance resolving concerns with tenants, such as working out payment plans, the Early Settlement Mediation Program provides free mediation for landlords and tenants. You can learn more about mediation from the Housing Solutions’ Landlord Tenant Resource Center: Mediation – Landlord Tenant Resources (tulsaltrc.org)
Last week NLIHC released The Road Ahead for Low-Income Renters, which summarizes research largely conducted during the pandemic on renters’ experiences and their needs going forward. The note summarizes findings from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, rent payment trackers, and research conducted by NLIHC, the Housing Initiative at Penn, the Urban Institute, and other sources.
A new NLIHC report, Direct-to-Tenant Payment Implementation: Increasing Flexibility and Equity in Emergency Rental Assistance Programs, outlines why direct-to-tenant payments are needed in emergency rental assistance (ERA) programs and how program administrators can implement this feature. The report recommends that programs implement low-barrier, direct-to-tenant assistance with minimal additional documentation requirements, and that programs make clear in their public-facing materials and outreach that direct-to-tenant assistance is available. Programs should also pair direct-to-tenant assistance with housing stability services to ensure tenants can remain stably housed after they receive payment, even if landlords act in bad faith.
The Department of Treasury on July 22 released updated emergency rental assistance spending data, revealing an uptick in spending in June. By the end of June, grantees had paid out a total of $3 billion of the $25 billion allocation appropriated by the December 2020 “Consolidated Appropriations Act” (ERA1), almost doubling the amount paid out by the end of May. Despite the increased pace of distribution, only 12% of the allocation had been paid out as of June 30, just a month before the CDC eviction moratorium is set to expire. Further, while several states and localities are ramping up their fund distribution, many more remain stagnant. Only five states distributed more than 20% of their funds, and only 10% of localities distributed more than 50%.
The House Financial Services Committee held a hearing on July 20 titled, “Building Back a Better, More Equitable Housing Infrastructure for America: Oversight of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.” HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge served as the hearing’s sole witness, her first hearing before the committee as secretary. In her opening testimony, Secretary Fudge stated, “The president’s 2022 budget is just one part of his commitment to make generational investments into America’s housing. In addition to the vital support contained in this budget, the president has called for sweeping new housing investments through his ‘Build Back America’ agenda. These investments would help build or restore more than two million affordable homes. The ‘Build Back Better’ agenda would help more families of modest means realize the dream of homeownership, expand the supply of affordable rental housing, and help revitalize our public housing stock.” The president’s FY22 budget requests $68.7 billion for HUD, a 15% increase over FY21 appropriated levels.
Representative Ritchie Torres (D-NY) led 106 of his colleagues in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) urging the inclusion of affordable housing resources in the upcoming infrastructure package. The letter calls for the HoUSed campaign’s top priorities to be included in the bill: multi-year, mandatory funding for housing vouchers to pave the way to universal housing assistance; at least $70 billion to address the capital repair backlog in public housing; and $45 billion for the national Housing Trust Fund to construct and preserve housing affordable to the lowest-income people.