With just two weeks remaining in the federal COVID-19 evictions ban, just 6.5% (roughly $3 billion) of the $46 billion available for Americans to cover rent, utilities, and related expenses has been used from the federal emergency rental aid (ERA) program, according to the Treasury Department.
"Rental assistance has reached only a small fraction of the families who report being behind on rent and at high risk of eviction when the moratorium expires next week, and there remain dozens of states and cities that have distributed little to no assistance to renters in need," National Low Income Housing Coalition CEO Diane Yentel wrote in a Wednesday statement, The Hill reported.
"Some communities are spending their money quickly and well, making those that haven't all the more glaring and unacceptable."
More than $1.5 billion in assistance was used in June alone, which was an 85% increase over May, almost three times as much in April, Treasury data showed.
"This represents significant progress, but there is still much further work to go to ensure tenants and landlords take advantage of the historic funding available to help cover rent, utilities, and other housing costs and keep people in their homes," Treasury wrote in a Wednesday statement.
Millions are facing potential eviction when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Aug. 1 eviction ban expires. The ERA program is intended to help renters cover costs to stay in their homes or afford finding a new home as soon as possible.
The Treasury admits the program is not delivering funds "fast enough to renters and landlords" in need.
"While more households are getting help, in many states and localities, funds are still not flowing fast enough to renters and landlords," the release noted. "Treasury is continuing an all-out effort, in coordination with the White House and interagency partners, to get the word out about the availability of rental assistance and to support grantees in ramping up their efforts."
There are more than 4.7 million Americans behind on housing payments amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to polling by Census Bureau between June 23-July 5, according to The Hill.
The poll also found around 8 million say they do not expect to make their next housing payment on time, putting the onus on the Biden administration to double its efforts.
The money has been delivered from the Treasury to the state and local governments, so Republicans have pinned blame on Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge for shortcomings.
"This is the poster child for why hardworking taxpayers are so critical of big government, bureaucratic programs like this," Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky., during a House Financial Services Committee hearing Tuesday.
"I can understand why taxpayers would be concerned if they are at risk of being evicted," Fudge responded. "There's no question about that."
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