WASHINGTON – The Biden administration on Wednesday announced new steps to help renters and landlords hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, including moves by the U.S. Treasury Department to reduce documentation requirements to get emergency rental assistance.
Renters can now use self-attestation to demonstrate their need, including with respect to financial hardship, the risk of homelessness or income, Treasury said in a statement.
The department said the move should help reduce logjams in processing by state and local governments that have left hundreds of thousands of applications stuck in the pipeline.
Treasury said state and local programs had spent just $5.1 billion – or about 20% – of the $25 billion allocated under the first round of the Emergency Rental Assistance program.
Payments to households at risk of eviction increased about 15% since June and doubled from May, but too many state and local governments had failed to make sufficient progress in getting aid to struggling tenants and landlords, it said.
After September, it said, programs that are “unwilling or unable to deliver assistance quickly will be at risk of having their rental assistance funding reallocated to effective programs in other high-need areas.”
Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo told state and local governments in a letter that Treasury would reallocate funding to jurisdictions that had obligated at least 65% of their original allocation.
The White House said the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Veterans Affairs would also increase support for at-risk tenant and landlords to stave off evictions.
“As the President has made clear, no state or locality should delay distributing resources that have been provided by Congress to meet families’ critical needs and prevent the tragedy of eviction,” the White House said in a statement.