U.S. Treasury extends rental assistance moratorium

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ATLANTA, Aug 4 - U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Wednesday that her department will use a 60 day extension of a moratorium on residential evictions to try to accelerate the distribution of assistance to struggling renters and landlords.

Some $46 billion in federal rental assistance funds from coronavirus relief bills issued in December and March has been slow to reach households in need, with only $3 billion of Congress through June for rent, utilities and related expenses according to Treasury data https: www.dropbox.com s pu 36 cez 0 oldj 5 gj ERA 201 - 8. pdf? dl 0.

After touring a Social Services Agency in Atlanta, Yellen told reporters that part of the problem is that housing aid is being routed through state and local governments that had little experience administering such programs.

Most local governments didn't have agencies that did this kind of work. The delays partly reflect the difficulties of starting something new, Yellen said.

In June, rental assistance was an eighth time rising to $1.5 billion; Yellen said she expected further increase going forward.

While the final moratorium ordered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expired on July 31, the Biden administration extended it for another 60 days for most counties, covering more than 90% of the population, amid pressure from progressive Democrats.

Yellen said the extension was important and that in the next two months the Treasury will try to get emergency rental assistance programs operational more effectively.

Some of the problems identified by the Treasury have been excessive local or state requirements for income documentation that people under the distress of an eviction threat may have difficulty producing.

USE IT OR LOSE IT In a separate statement, Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said that some jurisdictions are adding their own requirements that they can accept renters’ self-attestations - written declarations about their income status - while other governments are ignoring Treasury guidance that they can accept renters' self-attestations - self-descriptions - not sought by the Treasury.

State and local agencies administering emergency rental assistance should use full documentation flexibility of Treasury, Adeyemo said, adding that the Treasury has published sample application forms for state and local governments that had more success in distributing funds.

The Treasury also said it would make clear to jurisdictions with underperforming programs that they may lose their allocation of rental assistance funds if they don't take action to reach as many people in need as possible.

The department said it is reiterating to all grantees that Treasury has a statutory obligation to reallocate funds from ineffective jurisdictions beginning in the fall.

Biden administration altered rental assistance program in May to allow agencies to offer help directly to renters before first offering it to landlords.