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Rent is due and so many lose extra help



But the rent is still due. For people who relied on those defenses, this month could mark the start of new challenges.

“Urgent rent assistance should be a priority,” said Priscilla Almodovar, CEO of Enterprise Community Partners, a national nonprofit that develops affordable housing. “It is a key factor in avoiding evictions that mean homeless.”

There are about 23 million tenants at risk of losing their homes, according to a report by the Covid-19 Evasion Protection Project and the Aspen Institute Financial Security Program, as moratoriums expire in jurisdictions across the country. One in five tenants is at risk of eviction by the fall, with undocumented people and lower-income renters more vulnerable, according to the report.

“I expect we will see a lot of families introduced to cleanliness as we start the school year, which is already fraught with complications,” said Erin O. Planalp, managing attorney at Iowa Legal Aid. “But I hope we can build our connections in the community and partner with landowners to try to give people a little more time.”

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For people who are unable to pay rent this month, the good news is that there may be more resources for rent relief than when the pandemic started.

Know what protection you have

If you are unable to pay your rent, talk to your landlord. Many will agree to receive partial payments or set up a payment plan. But if you still can not rent, you need to know what protection you have to avoid eviction.

Eviction moratoriums, which are bans on landlords or making a request to carry out a tenant eviction, were put in place to protect tenants from losing their home during the health crisis. But they have been delightful and confusing. There were moratoriums at the federal or local level, for different types of homes and for different amounts of time.

The largest federal ban on deportations expired on July 24. Included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Security Act (CARES) and known as the CARES Act eviction moratorium, it protected tenants in subsidized or federal housing supported by eviction for non-payment of rent. It was a close protection that covered only one in four rental homes, according to the Urban Institute, but if you are in that category it is one less protection you have.
But two other defenses are still in place. The FHA, VA, and USDA have extended eviction protections in some situations for single-family tenants until Aug. 31. Separately, if your landlord receives a CARES Act mortgage relief on your rented home, then you can be protected from eviction for a longer period.

At this point, tenants are more likely to be protected by a local moratorium, which may be extended or remain in place.

Such protections are based on where you live. In New York State, for example, the governor extended the deportation moratorium until August 20. In Washington, the deportation moratorium was extended until October 15, and in Massachusetts until October 17. You can check the status in your state at Eviction Lab.
Or your protection may come from the type of housing you have. The Philadelphia Housing Authority announced it would extend an eviction moratorium on non-payment of rent until March 15, 2021. The move is an attempt to secure the authority’s 80,000 low-income residents, who have been “disproportionately affected by virus “, they can maintain housing stability during this time of economic uncertainty, according to Kelvin A. Jeremiah, president of PHA.

But regardless of the eviction moratorium protection you may be in control of, the rent is not forgiven. The unpaid rent is still in debt and will eventually have to be paid to avoid eviction.

You manage to find relief funds

The CARES Act allocated money to states and communities to use to facilitate rents. But connecting tenants in need with money is difficult, legal aid workers say.

For anyone who has not rented, it is difficult to understand how difficult it is to live in a state of emergency, Planalp said. “There is this fight or flight response. Just taking steps to understand this for you and your family is so difficult.”

The National Coalition for Low-Income Housing estimates at least $ 100 billion in emergency rental assistance will be needed because of the pandemic, and lists available relief. Some states have set up their own online rental assistance portals. If you are a resident of Iowa or Arizona, for example, you can answer some questions to determine your eligibility for assistance.

“There’s a lot of funding out there,” Planalp said. “But there are many programs and each program has its own criteria.”

Still, much of this relief fund leaves people, she said. Tenants who are undocumented or without legal status are not eligible for the CARES Act relief.

Further information on local housing facilitation resources can be found through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and a state-by-state list of nonprofit organizations can be found at Just Shelter.

“The help is there,” Planalp said. “We have to connect people with the right program and give them enough time to apply so that they get the relief they need before they lose their home.”


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