Biden administration officials say additional support is urgent: nearly seven million Americans reported being behind their rent payments in late April.
The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden announced the allocation of $ 21.6 billion in emergency rental aid to help prevent the evictions of people who lost their jobs during the pandemic.
The administration also announced changes to the rental assistance program on Friday with a view to addressing criticism that emergency support has not reached many in need of help.
This latest round of tenant aid was included in the $ 1.9 trillion aid package that Biden pushed into Congress in March. It followed $ 25 billion in emergency rental aid in the $ 900 billion COVID-19 relief bill passed by Congress in December.
Administration officials said additional support was urgently needed because nearly seven million Americans reported being behind their rent payments in late April. More than 40 percent of these tenants worry they may be evicted over the next two months.
Among the changes announced by the administration on Friday, government agencies implementing the rental assistance program will have to offer help directly to tenants if landlords decide not to participate.
In addition, the waiting time to deliver assistance to tenants has been halved if landlords decide not to participate in the program.
Gene Sperling, White House coordinator of the American Rescue Plan, said the administration’s goal was to get rental help to people who needed it as quickly as possible.
“We need to make sure that by implementing these emergency funds, we are agile enough to meet growing needs,” Sperling told reporters in a briefing. “Basic home security is critical to the dignity of all Americans.”
A federal judge in Washington on Wednesday ended the national moratorium on evictions that had been imposed by the Trump administration last year and that Biden extended until June 30.
Administration officials at the briefing noted that the Justice Department had already filed an appeal against that decision and was granted a 10-day suspension of the sentence. The administration wants to extend this stay until a federal appellate court rules on the matter.