Washington, D.C.—The following is a statement from BPC Board Members and co-chairs of its Housing Advisory Council, former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros and former HUD Deputy Secretary Pamela Hughes Patenaude:
“By establishing the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), Congress and the administration acted quickly and thoughtfully to ensure that millions of households behind on their rent did not face eviction as a result of the severe economic dislocation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. When eventually received by landlords and renters, the $46 billion allocated for ERAP should cover the vast majority of back rent owed by households who were unable to make their monthly payments while the pandemic raged.
“Unfortunately, fully distributing the $46 billion in ERAP funds takes time. Public officials who are responsible for ERAP fund distribution have had to hire staff, create websites, conduct outreach, and build an infrastructure from the ground up to process applications for relief and distribute funds. Recognizing these difficulties, the Treasury Department issued important guidance last month designed to cut red tape, make the ERAP application process easier and less bureaucratic, and speed up fund distribution.
“Next week, on June 30, the eviction moratorium established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is set to expire. We strongly encourage the CDC to extend the moratorium one final time through September 30 to give state, local, territorial, and tribal leaders more time to distribute ERAP relief to both landlords and renters. If it is not possible to extend the moratorium for all individuals and households currently covered by it, CDC should consider a short-term extension for the ‘extremely low income’ and ‘very low income’ individuals and households who are most likely to experience homelessness upon eviction.
“Allowing the moratorium to expire before vaccination rates increase in marginalized communities could lead to increased spread of, and deaths from, COVID-19, and diminish the impact of the historic investment lawmakers have made in housing stability.”