The eviction moratorium deadline passed on July 31, but that fact did nothing to light a fire under state and federal bureaucrats to dispense more than a fraction of the $46 billion in aid authorized by Congress last December and in March.
To date, only about $5 billion of that money has been sent out to homeowners and renters who are facing eviction due to being laid off during the pandemic.
The money is there. It’s been appropriated. There should be no reason that people are being thrown into the streets because they can’t pay the back rent they owe. Even with the new eviction moratorium that the Biden administration mandated on August 3, many people who are entitled to assistance aren’t getting it.
The reason for the bottleneck is bureaucratic lunacy. Those looking to tap into that $46 billion relief fund have to fill out a blizzard of paperwork that is so confusing that many simply give up in disgust.
Not all of the 6 million renters who are at risk of being evicted are eligible for the assistance, but millions are. But the states that are supposed to be dispensing the aid have created a nightmare.
The amount of money that’s actually reached people in need is a fraction of the $46.5 billion appropriated by Congress for emergency aid. Of the $25 billion appropriated in December, state and local programs spent about $5.1 billion between January and the end of July, according to Treasury. A March relief package provided the other $21.5 billion. About $108 million of that bucket had been spent as of June.
For instance, the state of New York received $800 million in the first tranche of aid authorized last December. As of the end of June, they had yet to dispense a single dollar of that money.
This is an emergency and the state bureaucrats are playing games with people’s lives. Apparently one of the reasons no aid was going to anyone in New York was that an entire program had to be created. They couldn’t piggyback the program on any existing grant or aid program. Why not? That’s still a mystery.
Facing mounting pressure from liberal lawmakers, the Biden administration announced a separate, temporary ban on evictions that covered most of the country on Aug. 3. Yet the news came too late for some people who were already losing their homes. Biden himself warned that the new moratorium was likely to be challenged in court and might not survive to Oct. 3.
For now, administration officials say the additional guidelines should answer many of the questions that still come up from state and local governments and housing agencies, especially those wary of loosening application requirements.
Indeed, the eviction moratorium was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in June, so the Biden administration is knowingly and deliberately breaking the law. But it will take time for a case by landlords to get to the Supreme Court, at which point it will definitely be ruled unconstitutional again.
Perhaps the president should work on dispensing that $46 billion rather than thumbing his nose at the Supreme Court. Ultimately, it’s his administration’s responsibility that the money is held up by red tape.