End of Rental Eviction Ban: Where To Get Help
The CDC eviction ban ended, and other state and local protections are ending soon. We looked into what resources are available and how renters can get help.
The job market is improving, and government benefits appear to be helping more people cover expenses, but many Americans are continuing to struggle financially through the pandemic.
Even though many key hardship indicators have fallen, an estimated 7.7 million people in the U.S. are behind on rent, and about 1.4 million reported being very likely to face eviction in the next two months, according to a U.S. Census Bureau survey released Sept. 8.
Delayed Distribution of Aid
More than $45 billion in federal rental assistance is available but getting help to people in need has proven challenging. Only about $5.1 billion of those funds had been distributed by the end of July, according to the New York Times.
Responsibility for distributing the funds fell to state and local government agencies and non-profit organizations, many of which had to stand up new systems and programs to determine eligibility and issue payments.
State and Local Programs Differ
The federal ban on evictions ended Aug. 26, but some states, including Washington, had already stepped in to extend the ban or provide additional protections. Washington's proclamation extended the ban to Oct. 31 (PDF), acknowledging that many of the necessary mechanisms weren't in place yet to get help to people: "...the program to disperse those funds is still in its early stages of operation; and ... neither the eviction resolution pilot program nor the right to counsel program as provided by E2SSB 5160 (senate bill) are operational statewide."
An estimated 117,285 Washington renters were behind on payments, according to the Census Bureau survey released Sept. 8.
Some local jurisdictions extended their bans on evictions, too. Seattle, for example, has extended its moratorium until Jan. 15, 2022.
The dispersed administration of aid programs and differences in state and local laws can make it harder to find out what help is available and how to access it. Also, different locations are having varying degrees of success getting funds out to people in need.
King County, the most populous county in Washington, for example, has distributed only about $6.5 million, while Pierce County has spent about $53.4 million, according to reporting by the Seattle Times.
King County attributed delays to having to build a new database system to manage funds and having to comply with new federal requirements.
Resources and Information
If you're a tenant who needs help paying your rent because of pandemic-related reasons, you might be eligible for help from federal, state or local programs.
The first step is to find the local program in charge of distributing funds and apply for aid.
You might also need legal aid, information about your rights as a tenant and education about laws and policies.
Here are some resources to get you started.
- 2-1-1: This phone number can connect you to local services, including help finding and paying for food, housing, health care, childcare, elder care, crisis intervention and more. You can also try 211.org.
- Federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: This agency website has a tool you can use to search the listing of 495 rental assistance programs by state, territory, tribe and tribal lands. You can also learn about eligibility and what's covered by federal rental assistance, and you can read information about your rights as a tenant.
- National Low-Income Housing Coalition: The State and Local Rental Assistance web page provides information for renters and landlords looking for help with rent or utilities. You'll find a searchable database to connect with Treasury Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) programs near you.
- Just Shelter: You can find local resources, including housing assistance, legal aid, tenant rights, education and advocacy by clicking "Get involved in your own community," and clicking your state.
- Eviction Lab: This non-profit organization at Princeton University has tons of information, including a guide that answers common questions tenants have about the end of eviction bans and other protections.
- LawHelp.org: This non-profit organization has a webpage dedicated to legal help specifically for rent and eviction issues. You can find general, national resources, or you can look up legal resources by state.