Stimulus funds helped 1.36 million tenants avoid eviction in 2021 – but will evictions resume this year?
Stimulus funds helped 1.36 million tenants avoid eviction in 2021 – but will evictions resume this year?
A young man in his new apartment full of moving boxes.

Image source: Getty Images

With states strapped for funding, it’s unclear what will happen next.


Key points

  • Federal rent relief funds prevented a massive wave of evictions as planned.
  • Now that many states have lost or exhausted their funds, deportations could resume.

When the COVID-19 pandemic first broke out, it caused a widespread wave of job and income losses. Unsurprisingly, many people quickly fell behind on their housing payments, including tenants and landlords.

Protections were put in place in 2020 to prevent a homelessness crisis. These included a federal moratorium on evictions and the ability for mortgage borrowers to put their home loans on hold for up to 18 months.

These protections have since run out. In their place, mortgage managers have come under pressure from watchdogs like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to work with struggling borrowers to stay in their homes, and $46 billion in federal aid funds rental was allocated to help tenants catch up on overdue payments. .

So far, these rent relief funds have done what they were supposed to do: prevent an eviction crisis. In 2021, an estimated 1.36 million tenants avoided eviction thanks to this assistance.

At this point, however, many states have already distributed all of their housing assistance funds. And those who didn’t may have seen those funds clawed back by the federal government and redistributed to states with greater need that have managed to move that aid forward more quickly. So that begs the question: Will eviction activity pick up again this year now that many states have run out of money for rent relief?

There’s still money left to spend

While some states no longer accept applications for rent relief, assistance is available in some parts of the country, most commonly at the city or county level. So tenants who have been unable to catch up on their rent arrears should contact their local housing offices and see what options are available to them.

It should also be noted that although many states have closed their rent relief portals for applications, they are still working through a backlog of existing applications. Once dealt with, more tenants could be in line for relief.

But still, at some point, the $46 billion allocated for rental assistance will run out nationally, and local programs will stop being able to offer funds to help tenants catch up on rent. And once that happens, increased evictions could ensue.

That said, there are reasons to hope that things won’t be so bad. For one thing, the economy is much stronger today than it was when these federal rent relief funds were first put in place. It may be more feasible now for tenants in arrears to increase their income and make their landlords whole.

Additionally, some owners may choose to do not move forward with evictions for unpaid rent if their tenants are now paying regularly. Eviction can be a long and costly process for landlords. And it’s the one some may try to avoid – if not out of the goodness of their hearts, then out of a desire to avoid hassle.

Tenants must seek redress

Many cities and counties have successfully released money for rent relief. Those still behind with rent payments should feel free to see what their options are.

The same goes for homeowners who are struggling to make their mortgage payments. Some local housing assistance programs are not limited to housing assistance, but also have funds available to help cover mortgage obligations. Anyone struggling on the housing front should research local options before giving up.

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