State and local governments are struggling to distribute $47 billion in federal money aimed at helping tenants who can’t pay rent because of the Covid-19 crisis, leaving many people at risk of being thrown out of their homes when an eviction moratorium expires on July 31.
Meanwhile, many landlords have been squeezed because they have been unable to collect rent but remain on the hook for taxes, maintenance and other bills.
Problems distributing the funds—which can be used to cover back rent, future rent and utilities—often stem from bureaucratic bottlenecks. Some states are having trouble keeping up with requests for aid, while numerous renters are being disqualified for failing to complete their applications correctly, say landlords, tenants and local officials. A key sticking point: verifying an applicant’s income with either last year’s tax return or two months’ worth of paycheck documentation.
“The capacity to process applications does not match the volume of need,” said Jim MacDonald, chief community investment officer at the United Way of Greater Kansas City, which is helping distribute about $30 million in the area.
While some states, including California and New York, have their own eviction moratoriums that will remain in effect past July, about 40 states don’t, according to the legal website Nolo.com.