New Eviction Moratorium and Rental Assistance in COVID Relief Package
The COVID relief bill includes several new initiatives that address the ever-expanding housing crisis. Most notably, the new COVID-19 relief legislation extends the eviction moratorium through the end of January 2021 and establishes a $25 billion dollar rental assistance program, which is funded through the Coronavirus Relief Fund. The funds are to be dispersed to the states by the Treasury Department, and each state will have to establish agencies to distribute the funds to eligible families. The funds can be used for rent, rent arrears, and past and future utility bills.
What Is the Eligibility for Rental Assistance?
Families and individuals will need to show that their household income is below 80% of the area median income and that at least one person in the household:
- Has qualified for unemployment, has lost part of their income, or has a financial hardship
- Can show that they are at risk of eviction or losing their home
Households are eligible for twelve months of rental assistance, with a possible 90 day extension if needed. The rental assistance can be paid directly to landlords, or the funds can be distributed directly to the renters. This will allow for relief to both renters who are in risk of losing their homes, as well as the property owners who rely on rental payments for their livelihoods. The eviction moratorium to this point has largely been an unfunded mandate requiring landlords to absorb losses indefinitely, which is becoming increasingly unsustainable.
The eviction moratorium is likely to be extended beyond the end of January 2021 in future legislation, as it will take a considerable amount of time to get the funds to the landlords and renters who desperately need the assistance.