Federal Rental Aid Program Undergoes Change to Meet Shifting Demand

The Treasury Department said it will begin redirecting more than $1 billion in untapped funds to "high performing" areas

FILE - Gene Sperling, who leads the oversight for distributing funds from President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package, speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, on Aug. 2, 2021. The Treasury Department says several states and cities have exhausted their federal rental assistance in a sign that spending on a program aimed at averting evictions has picked up speed. The federal government is forecasting that upwards of $30 billion allocated for rental assistance will be disbursed by the end of the year.
AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File

A record amount of federal rental assistance was put into the pockets of struggling renters by state and local governments in November, as the Biden administration initiates changes aimed at providing more funds to areas with high demand.

The Treasury Department said Friday that $2.9 billion was distributed to 665,000 tenants and landlords in November through the Emergency Rental Assistance program, one of the few remaining federal pandemic benefits helping keep people in their homes.

In announcing the figures, the agency said eviction filings "remain well below pre-pandemic levels," an assessment supported by data from Princeton University's Eviction Lab that shows filings in the six states and 31 cities it tracks have remained low since the federal eviction moratorium ended in August.

The $46.5 billion rental aid program was created by Congress to help low- and moderate-income households that are behind on their rent and utilities amid the pandemic. In the early months, funds were slow to find their way to those in need, but Friday's data suggests the money is being distributed at a much faster pace.

The Treasury Department estimated that roughly $25 billion to $30 billion in funds were spent or allocated by the end of December.

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