The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced the allocation of $1.1 billion in funds for Emergency Housing Vouchers (EHVs) for those at-risk of or experiencing homelessness.
The $1.1 billion from HUD will fund 70,000 vouchers for 626 public housing authorities in the U.S. that are part of the Housing Choice Voucher Program. The figure is the first tranche to be awarded from $5 billion that HUD announced earlier this month.
HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge said in a press release that the timing of the funding is important, with hot summer months fast approaching and the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing. “Addressing our nation’s homelessness crisis is a top priority for HUD,” said Fudge in a statement.
The funds to EHVs come from the $5 billion HUD was allocated to use through the American Rescue Plan Act. Since the legislation was passed in March of this year, HUD has allocated $10 billion in homelessness assistance, according to the agency. In addition to $5 billion that has been set aside for EHVs, in early April, HUD awarded $5 billion to affordable housing efforts through the HOME Investment Partnerships Program.
HUD’s announcement comes three months after President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion stimulus package into law. The bill included $27.4 billion in rental assistance to Americans financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Industry groups like the National Multifamily Housing Council and the National Apartment Association had pushed Congress for months for more federal rent relief measures, as estimates on the amount of back rent accumulated during the pandemic reached as high as $70 billion.
Earlier this week, the National Multifamily Housing Council’s latest report on rent payments across the U.S. found that 77 percent of households had made full or partial payments by June 6. NMHC President Doug Bibby said in a statement that the figure indicates the nation’s comeback from the pandemic, but cautioned that there are still challenges ahead, as construction costs and labor shortages are exacerbating the affordable housing shortage.