States are struggling to provide over $ 45 billion in rental support as evictions continue

Matthew Turner (right) and his husband Gerard.

Photo: Matthew Turner

Since Matthew Turner was fired in October, he estimates he has applied for nearly 600 jobs with no luck.

Finding rental support was almost as difficult.

Turner has contacted many of the local North Carolina organizations he lives in, but all of them have turned them down or put them on waiting lists. He and his husband Gerard have used up their savings and do not know how to raise May’s rent for their apartment in Raleigh.

“It’s incredibly stressful,” said the 48-year-old gymnast. “You don’t know what else to do.”

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Congress has provided more than $ 45 billion in total rental assistance after the coronavirus pandemic cost millions of Americans their jobs and up to a fifth of renters failed to keep up with their housing allowance payments, including nearly a third of African American renters.

However, the introduction of the aid is not progressing quickly enough for many, and evictions are continuing despite a national procedural ban.

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, states and their local programs are currently distributing $ 16 billion of the $ 25 billion in rental support passed in December.

In May, the Treasury Department will begin sending the additional $ 21 billion of rental support envisaged in the March stimulus package to states and municipalities.

By early April, three months after the $ 25 billion aid was passed, around 20 countries still have to open a program to grant the aid.

That has resulted in tenants queuing across the country for assistance.

“Waiting times for rent relief in Massachusetts are still weeks to months,” said Helen Matthews, communications manager at City Life / Vida Urbana, a Boston nonprofit.

The delays are due to the fact that states are figuring out how to distribute an unprecedented amount of money, experts say. Additionally, residential property advocates say some states are unnecessarily slowing things down by imposing tedious documentation requirements on tenants in order to qualify.

A report on the Texas Rent Relief Program released earlier this month found that of the more than 176,000 people who began applying for financial assistance there, only 250 applications were approved with payments sent.

“If it took you 45 days to get money and 44 days to get evicted, what was it about?” said Mark A. Melton, an attorney who represented tenants pro bono during the pandemic.

“It’s like drowning in the ocean and 12 inches from a lifeline, but no one can help push it your way.”

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