Biden Offers US Tenants $ 21.6 Billion Lifeline as Eviction Crisis Looms | News on the coronavirus pandemic

Biden administration officials say the additional support is urgently needed: Nearly seven million Americans said they were behind on their rent payments at the end of April.

The administration of US President Joe Biden announced the allocation of $ 21.6 billion in emergency housing assistance to help prevent evictions of people who lost their jobs during the pandemic.

The administration also announced changes to the rental assistance program on Friday aimed at responding to criticism that emergency aid has not reached those in need.

This latest round of tenant aid was included in the $ 1.9 trillion relief package that Biden submitted to Congress in March. It follows $ 25 billion in emergency rental assistance in the $ 900 billion COVID-19 relief bill passed by Congress in December.

Administration officials said additional support was urgently needed as nearly seven million Americans said they were behind on their rent payments at the end of April. More than 40% of these tenants fear eviction within the next two months.

Among the changes announced by the administration on Friday, government agencies implementing the rent relief program will have to offer assistance directly to tenants if landlords choose not to participate.

In addition, the wait time to provide tenant assistance has been cut in half if landlords decide not to participate in the program.

Gene Sperling, the coordinator of the American Rescue Plan at the White House, said the administration’s goal is to provide rental assistance to people in need as quickly as possible.

“We have to make sure that when we implement these emergency funds, we are agile enough to meet the growing needs,” Sperling told reporters in a briefing. “Basic housing security is fundamental to the dignity of all Americans.”

A federal judge in Washington on Wednesday overturned the national moratorium on deportations that was imposed by the Trump administration last year and extended by Biden until June 30.

Administration officials at the briefing noted that the Justice Ministry had already appealed the decision and obtained a 10-day stay. The administration is seeking to extend this stay until a federal appeals court can rule on the matter.

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