Real Estate News

Published on Tuesday, November 30, 2021

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Jurisdictions with large amounts of unused funds include less-populous states like Montana and North Dakota.

The Treasury Department will redirect more than $800 million in rental assistance funds to jurisdictions with backlogged aid requests, The Wall Street Journal reported this week. 

Officials speaking to the Journal would not specify which regions will pick up additional funds as a result of the reshuffling, but did say jurisdictions with large amounts of unused funds include less-populous states like Montana and North Dakota. A portion of the funds may be moved within, rather than between, states, the Journal reported.

The Biden Administration’s renter relief program has faced scrutiny in recent months for being staggeringly slow to roll out funds across the country: data released by the Treasury Department in August showed that just $4.7 billion of the nearly $47 billion appropriated by Congress had been distributed through July. 

The program, though overseen by the Treasury Department, relies on more than 450 state, county, and municipal governments and charitable organizations to distribute funds, the Journal reported earlier this fall. And that, according to many experts, can account for the long delays tenants and landlords have faced in receiving funds. 

“Administering government programs, especially from startup, all the way through, is challenging,” Kent Syler, a professor of political science at Middle Tennessee State University and a former 26-year chief of staff for a congressional representative from Tennessee, told in an earlier interview.

To allow more time in distributing the funds, the Centers for Disease Control this summer issued another eviction moratorium meant to extend until October 3; that ban was struck down by the Supreme Court in August.  In an unsigned opinion, the Court said that any continued ban would have to be specially authorized by Congress.

At the time, the temporary ban was met with disdain by the commercial real estate industry, with the National Multifamily Housing Council saying it did “nothing to speed the delivery of real solutions for America’s renters” and “ignores the unsustainable and unfair economic burden placed on millions of housing providers— jeopardizing their financial stability and threatening the loss of affordable housing stock nationwide.” 

The NHMC has also blasted the rental relief program’s snail’s pace, saying “it is unacceptable that some localities continue to delay distribution of benefits, and it is unacceptable to continue to ask housing providers to carry the financial burden of this pandemic.”