On January 20, 2021 Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. With any change in administration you should be aware of how the new policies and executive orders that come from the White House can effect you.
One of the first items of business being addressed by the new White House Administration is people's struggle to pay rent and the worry that they may be evicted during this pandemic.
We have been navigating the effects of COVID-19 as best we can, but it has gone on longer than most people predicted and personal finances are still in jeopardy for many Americans.
Forbes Advisor recently published an article on what we may see from the Executive Order that President Biden signed soon after his inauguration that extended many of the actions initiated by President Trump.
Biden Signs Executive Order to Extend Eviction Moratorium. Is More Rent Relief Next?
Mere hours after Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th U.S. president, he signed a slew of executive orders in response to the continuing Covid-19 crisis.
Among them was an extension of the eviction moratorium for renters who have fallen behind on their bills due to unemployment or reduced wages during the pandemic.
The order asks the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to extend the federal eviction moratorium, which is set to expire on Jan. 31, through at least March 31.
The executive order also calls on federal housing agencies to extend the foreclosure and eviction moratorium for federally backed mortgages at least through March, and allow forbearance applicationsto continue for federally-backed mortgages.
Nearly one in five households were behind on their rent in December 2020, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. And while Biden’s order may temporarily stem the bleeding, it may only delay the inevitable for renters who have fallen far behind on their payments and are still waiting for aid that’s been promised.
Biden’s Aid Plan for Renters
Biden’s executive order today will be one of the first tangible measures of his American Rescue Planannounced last week. While much of the plan requires approval from Congress, Biden has the power to request an extension of the eviction moratorium extension as former president Donald Trump did in August.
The American Rescue Plan, announced by Biden last week, allocates $25 billion in rental and utility assistance for rental relief to low- and moderate-income households “who have lost jobs are or are out of the labor market,” according to Biden’s American Rescue Plan fact sheet. The funds can go towards up to 12 months of eligible renters’ expenses. Another $5 billion will go toward paying overdue utility bills, through programs like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
In addition, $5 billion would go toward emergency assistance for people facing homelessness. The funding would be distributed via states and cities to help people obtain housing. The funds will be flexible, according to Biden’s plan, to provide a range of options for communities, including converting hotels to permanent housing and helping homeless services providers maintain their programming.
“If we don’t act now, there will be a wave of evictions and foreclosures in the coming months as the pandemic rages on,” Biden said when he unveiled his plan on Jan. 14. “This would overwhelm emergency shelters and increase Covid-19 infections as people have nowhere to go and can’t socially distance.”
Biden said that funding rental assistance would not only aid families at risk of eviction, but also “be a bridge to economic recovery for countless mom and pop landlords.”
Rent Relief Slow to Arrive for Worried Renters
Biden’s announcement provides another lifeline for renters while Congress considers the elements of Biden’s proposed third stimulus plan. But housing advocates are worried that rent relief allocated in the second stimulus package still won’t arrive quickly enough to truly alleviate growing past-due balances—and that a continuing eviction moratorium only delays the inevitable for many renters.
The funding for rent relief must first flow from the federal government to the cities and states requesting aid; while each state is slated to get a portion of the allocation, cities with populations of more than 200,000 can also apply for some of the funding.
The rent relief allocations are expected to be distributed in late January.
Stay Up to Date on Local Resources
While we cannot solve every hardship in our community, at Butte Community Action Agency we do our best to help where we can. Where we cannot help, we share information of other organizations who can and promote information about funding and initiatives that you may be able to benefit from. Below are two sources that offer such information and resources.
- The Chico Chamber of Commerce has press releases and documentation updates on their website including tenant rights under "Additional Resources".
- Butte-Glenn 211 is another great resource for if you need help and they are particularly active on Facebook.
We have seen the impacts of the pandemic first hand with the increase in demand for food from our North State Food Bank and services from our Weatherization and Utility Assistance programs. We are hoping VITA next month will help alleviate the burden of paying to file taxes and get tax returns into the pockets of those who could use the extra financial cushion.
If you are in a place where you'd like to help those in these hard times and support the efforts of Butte Community Action Agency, we invite you to click on the link below and donate.