Just 11% Of Rental Assistance Funds Distributed

Federal efforts to help renters cover their monthly payments have largely failed, as theTreasury Department reports just $1.7 billion of the $46.5 billion rental aid program’s funds have been disbursed, leaving 89 percent untouched. “About a million payments have now gone out to families — it is starting to help a meaningful number of families,” Gene Sperling, who oversees the operation of federal pandemic relief programs for President Biden, told the New York Times. “It’s just not close to enough in an emergency like this to protect all the families who need and deserve to be protected. So there is still way more to do and to do fast. The Emergency Rental Assistance Program was created to provide funds to…

Biden Administration Tells Supreme Court Worsening Pandemic Justifies New Eviction Moratorium

The Biden administration this week argued before the Supreme Court that the worsening pandemic in the United States justifies the administration’s executive extension of the federal eviction moratorium. The Supreme Court earlier this summer had indicated that the moratorium, once it expired at the end of July, would have to be extended by Congress rather than the executive branch. The Biden administration nevertheless unilaterally proceeded with a new moratorium. With the matter now before the high court, the Biden administration says that the “trajectory of the pandemic” requires a new moratorium, one the administration says it was justified in passing. Just in: The Biden administration has filed its response in the latest case at SCOTUS challenging the federal eviction moratorium.…

In Los Angeles, a Standoff Over Measures to Increase Housing Density

Efforts to increase the amount of housing in California are hitting a roadblock in Los Angeles, where city councilmembers have mounted an opposition to loosen the state’s regulations on multifamily units. Two bills recently introduced in the California Senate would allow several new avenues by which homebuilders might develop multi-family units on land originally zoned for single-family dwellings. California is among the states struggling the most with restricted housing stock amid the broader housing crunch. Yet the Los Angeles City Council this week announced a resolution opposing the measures, claiming the state-level bills would wrest local control of housing away from local authorities. The bills “are the third annual attempt by San Francisco Sen. Scott Weiner to destroy local control…

New Federal Bill Would Offer First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit, Spur Affordable Housing Construction

A new piece of legislation proposed by one of the top Democrats in the Senate would seek to extend a tax credit for first-time homebuyers as well as promote the construction of affordable housing across the country. The Decent, Affordable, Safe Housing for All Act would seek to address major gaps in the U.S. housing industry in part by “greatly increasing the production of deeply affordable housing for families exiting homelessness and for low-income households by investing in effective, efficient existing programs and reforming the tax code,” U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden’s office said in a press release. The bill would move to “strengthen the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit” as well as “establish a Renter’s Tax Credit and Middle-Income Housing Tax…

Why Billions in Federal Rental Assistance Has Failed to Reach Renters, Landlords

Bureaucratic wrangling, technical malfunctions, strict documentation requirements: These are just a few of the reported reasons that billions of dollars in federal aid have failed to reach renters and landlords as the debate over the eviction moratorium has dragged on. An analysis by USA Today this week revealed a broad variety of causes for the delays. “Many states contracted third-party vendors to lead the programs, requiring lengthy procurement processes that delayed the initial rollout of money,” the paper reports. “Computer systems in several states malfunctioned, preventing renters from applying. Some states are forcing tenants to provide more documentation than required by federal law, which experts say has created unnecessary hurdles to get money out the door.” The paper notes that…

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Warns Mortgage Lenders to Assist Struggling Customers

The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is warning mortgage lenders around the country to continue offering practical assistant to consumers who may be delinquent in their mortgage payments, promising oversight of the lending industry to ensure adherence to consumer safety regulations. The CFPB said in a report this month that it surveyed 16 different mortgage providers and found that “some populations of borrowers at these servicers may have difficulty establishing live contact and obtaining assistance from some servicers.” Additionally, the bureau found that “growing numbers of borrowers are exiting COVID-19 hardship forbearances in a delinquent status, and some servicers are substantially underperforming their peers in key effectiveness metrics.” The CFPB said that lenders should “enhance their communication capabilities and outreach…

Government Agrees to Expedited Hearing on ‘Unlawful’ Eviction Ban

A group of landlords suing the federal government over its current eviction ban has been granted an expedited hearing on the matter, with the government itself agreeing to that schedule, though the ultimate date of the court’s decision remains uncertain. In a filing late last week, the Alabama Association of Realtors said the White House had agreed to a rapid filing-and-response schedule for this week, one that requires the government’s opposition filing to be in place by Tuesday and the realtors’ response to be logged by Wednesday morning. The court subsequently granted that request. Both parties have requested a final ruling on the matter by Thursday morning, though it’s unclear if the court will be able to accomplish that quick…

Mass. Bill Would Promote ‘Equitable Housing Recovery’ Ahead of Looming Eviction Crisis

A bill currently working its way through the Massachusetts legislature would, if passed, institute an “equitable housing recovery” process in that state to fix what advocates say is a looming crisis of evictions after more than a year of the COVID-19 crisis. The bill would “prevent COVID-19 evictions and foreclosures and promote an equitable housing recovery,” in part by forbidding landlords from commencing evictions unless they had “exhausted all available opportunities, and worked in good faith, to obtain short-term emergency rental assistance” for their tenets. The advocacy group Homes for All Massachusetts hailed the bill as one that would “prevent displacement, ensure timely and equitable distribution of rental assistance, and promote racial and economic equity.” Massachusetts, like many states, has…

Amid Low Housing Stock, Are Millennial Homebuyers Driving the Shortage?

One possible explanation for the sharp decrease in housing stock throughout the U.S.? Demographics. Some analysts believe a wave of Millennial homebuyers are at least partially responsible for the severe housing crunch that has sent U.S. home prices skyrocketing and launched a seemingly endless frenzy in which buyers are competing in a cutthroat market for a dwindling supply of homes. Data indicate that Millennials form the largest share of current homebuyers: Older and younger members of that group make up nearly 40 percent of all homebuyers today, according to data from the National Association of Retailers. Millennials still make up the smallest share of U.S. homeowner demographics, but data from Apartment List show that, among major U.S. age groups, their…

Senator leads effort to repeal CDC’s eviction moratorium

A U.S. senator this week launched a long-shot effort to repeal the eviction moratorium put in place by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a gambit which comes amid the moratorium’s uncertain constitutional standing. Penn. Sen. Pat Toomey introduced the resolution in the Senate on Wednesday; if passed, it would order that the moratorium “shall have no force or effect” under U.S. law. Pursuant to the resolution, Toomey asked the Government Accountability Office to determine whether or not the CDC’s order formally counts as a “rule” under GAO regulations. “Though the CDC did not pursue notice and comment rulemaking, the eviction moratorium appears to be generally applicable, prospective in nature, and designed to interpret law,” Toomey wrote. It…