White House races to clear rent relief logjam as mass evictions loom – By Katy O’Donnell (Politico) / May 4 2021
The Biden administration is racing to end a bottleneck that has prevented state and local governments from distributing nearly $50 billion in rental assistance.
The pandemic crisis is finally winding down for much of the country, with both vaccinations and the economy surging. But the Covid-19 housing crisis hasn’t even hit yet, and Washington’s efforts to head it off have stalled.
A federal moratorium on evictions is set to expire June 30, leaving millions of tenants facing long-term damage to their credit and the potential loss of their homes if they can’t scrape together more than a year’s worth of back rent. Now, the Biden administration is racing to end a bottleneck that has prevented state and local governments from distributing nearly $50 billion in rental assistance that Congress allocated to keep those tenants from going over a financial cliff.
“While it is positive that large numbers of hard-pressed renters are now getting relief, it’s not close to OK that there are places where help is not moving fast enough,” said Gene Sperling, a senior adviser to the president and the White House’s point person on coordinating relief efforts. “And that is why we will soon announce new, stepped-up efforts to get relief to renters most in need.”
White House officials said they would be releasing more information “in the coming weeks.”
The disruption in housing relief is the latest example of bureaucratic chaos impeding Washington’s sprawling Covid-19 economic rescue. An effort to help millions of struggling small businesses by providing forgivable loans has repeatedly run into problems, and similar snags plagued attempts to distribute enhanced unemployment benefits.