The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a new rule to protect residents in HUD-subsidized housing facing evictions due to non-payment of rent during COVID-19, requiring they receive a 30-day notice period that includes information about available federal emergency rental assistance.
The rule is expected to cover about 4.1 million people living in public housing or those living in project-based rental assistance properties, according to the Associated Press, which first reported the HUD change. The action is an effort to stave off evictions for non-payment of rent since the federal eviction moratorium expired in August and state and local moratoriums are also winding down.
Meanwhile, due to bottlenecks at the state and local level, only about $10 billion of the $46 billion in available federal emergency rental assistance program money has been allocated across the nation to eligible residents and landlords. Part of the new HUD rule requires landlords to provide information on the federal emergency rental relief along with an eviction notice. Landlords are also required to notify all residents in public housing about the ERAP funding.
HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge said in a prepared statement the department has worked with landlords and owners who do business with HUD for many months to ensure they have access to the ERAP and do everything they can to keep people housed during the pandemic. Fudge called the new rule a significant step in raising resident awareness about the availability of funds that can help them with past due rent and allow them additional time to access that relief.
“HUD will continue to review additional actions to help protect individuals through the duration of the pandemic,” Fudge stated.
Officially a rule that is published in the Federal Register takes effect 30 days after publication, but a senior HUD official told the AP public housing authorities were expected to being complying immediately to prevent evictions from heading to the courts.
Landlord advocacy groups like the National Multifamily Housing Council and National Apartment Association, which had been against extending the federal eviction moratorium that ended on Aug. 26 after a 6-3 vote by the Supreme Court, have said for months the solution is to get the federal emergency rental assistance distributed. NMHC said on Aug. 27 that it continued to work with the Biden administration and Congress to improve the execution of the rental assistance program.
Calling the ERAP funds the “most effective lifeline available to (residents) and landlords,” the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities also stated in late August that it was working closely with the Biden administration to provide recommendations to expedite the rental assistance funds.
More HUD Support
Fudge said the new rule builds on the work HUD has been doing to make sure available support is reaching families HUD serves. Other actions taken by HUD to prevent evictions and inform communities of their responsibilities and rights include:
- Streamlined requirements to allow HUD-assisted households to quickly recertify incomes;
- Released extensive eviction prevention resources for public housing authorities, Tribes and Tribally-Designated Housing Entities that highlight best practices to keep families housed and answer frequently asked questions;
- Issued guidance through HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity to protect against selective evictions aimed at protected classes including race, national origin and those with disabilities.
HUD also stated it had allocated $19 million to provide support to fair housing enforcement organizations to respond to inquiries and complaints and funded $20 million for eviction protection and diversion services for low-income residents at risk of or subject to eviction.