Rental Housing And Federal Support During The Pandemic: Federal Government Stimulus Checks To Prevent Eviction

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One of the greatest threats that households faced following the economic downturn since 2020 was the threat of eviction from rented homes. Millions of Americans suddenly found themselves without a job. Renters who were already struggling to manage finances suddenly found themselves defaulting on their rent and other bills. And the stimulus checks proved inadequate.

The federal administration responded with parallel support to renters and homeowners. Hundreds of billions of dollars went out as government assistance. The administration simultaneously ensured that renters were not evicted and initially set a one-year ban on any eviction. 

Pandemic Renter Stimulus Checks Drove Eviction To Historic Lows

Many renters faced acute trouble paying their rent, utilities, and other housing costs. The same was for landlords as they tried to stay afloat with tenants during the desperate situation. 

Many pandemic assistance programs were started with renters receiving direct stimulus checks. The pandemic aid saved millions of Americans from eviction and the data backs the claim. The federal emergency rental assistance program accepted applications from landlords. 

Renter also applied and needed the help of landlords to complete the process and pay the landlord their dues.

State and local programs also distributed billions of dollars in rental assistance. This helped renters stay housed during the pandemic. Rental assistance helped both renters and landlords make ends meet. 

Applying For The Emergency Rental Stimulus Checks

Renters had to apply through the local emergency rental assistance (ERA) programs. Local programs normally had the flexibility in making changes to procedures and policies. This was done to suit the needs of their local community. 

For instance, in certain areas, renters could apply for rental assistance on their own. But in other areas, landlords were required to submit an application first on behalf of their renters. 

The search bar assisted renters and landlords in finding the programs that were in force in their areas. And if they were not detailed in the search bars, applicants could call 211 or the local housing authority for guidance and assistance. 

The Sope Of Rental Assistance

The federal emergency rental assistance programs allowed local programs to cover utilities, rent, and even the cost of home energy. This naturally covered the cost of gas, electricity, fuel, water and sewer, and even trash removal. 

If the utilities or home-energy costs are paid for by landlords in the normal course of events, these are deemed as part of the rent.

Rental assistance may also cover internet connectivity expenses, and reasonable late fees if it is not included in utility or rent debts. 

Other expenses covered include rental-related feeds and moving fees. Rental-related feeds include security deposits, screening fees, and application fees for families on the move. 

Several programs also provided case management, housing counseling, legal representation, and various housing stability services. 

The federal emergency rental assistance program allowed local programs that helped with moving expenses, security deposits, screening feeds, and rental applications. The program allowed local programs to receive rent for eighteen months. This included overdue rent back to the first quarter of 2020 if the funds were available. 

For those who had rent overdue, the money must first go towards the rent owed. The local program also assisted with future rent. Further, renters received help with their future payments of up to three months at one time. But again, this was linked to the availability of funds with the local program. 

Rental Assistance Stimulus Checks In 2023

Rental assistance programs have evolved during the pandemic. As most federal rental assistance programs draw to a close, housing stability programs are facing high demands as eviction filings have risen. 

Community resolution program managers say that to stretch the funds available for rental assistance, the city put a limit on the number of stimulus checks given to those facing eviction from their rented homes this year. 

With programs starting as far back as 2020, it is uncertain how much housing support is needed even as the US moves out of the grip of the pandemic. 

Many short-term rent assistance programs that were created during the pandemic have come to a close. The stimulus checks are no longer coming in. Others have become permanent or have expanded or moved on to new housing organizations. 

Other stimulus check schemes for renters were permanent right from their inception. Other new housing assistance programs are maintaining a balance between uncertainties and concerns over sustainability.

There has been stringent criticism of the programs and some of it is justified. They had been slow and at times reluctant to deliver assistance. But the Treasury Dept.’s rental assistance program has provided stimulus checks for 10.8 million rental assistance payments to families. 

The Treasury has also redistributed unspent funds from one local and state program to another. Around $48 billion in rental assistance funds has been reallocated as of last month. 

Ever since the pandemic, the Treasury Dept. has revealed that it has developed and strengthened eviction diversions programs for around 180 state and local governments.

New Programs To Serve The Changing Needs Of Renters

Some of the new local programs include the one in Oklahoma City called Shelterwell. It has emerged from Community Cares Partners. It was created and distributes federal rent assistance stimulus checks in Oklahoma. Community Cares Partners no longer accepts applications for rent assistance since last year. 

Shelterwell plans to provide long-term answers to the perennial issue of housing instability. This is an area experts believe where rent assistance stimulus checks are not sufficient. 

This stems a lot from a lack of understanding about the rights of tenants as seen in eviction courts. The eviction docket of the county has at times over three hundred cases that are open. 

Shelterwell is developing both landlord and tenant education programs. This is being done to include property managers’ incentives to lease out to renters once they complete their training. 

The non-profit has also developed self-help resources and services to prevent eviction. The San Antonio City Council has also approved a new housing assistance program. The idea developed includes assistance in mortgage and rent, and also relocation.