CLEVELAND (CNS) — Affordable housing advocates at Catholic Charities agencies and elsewhere are working intently to help renters access billions of dollars in federal Emergency Rental Assistance funds to prevent a surge in evictions tied to the coronavirus pandemic.
They are frustrated, however, they told Catholic News Service, because the $46.5 billion for rental assistance allocated since December is trickling into communities too slowly to meet the existing need.
“We’ve been trying to work very aggressively with our (diocesan) agencies to try to access the local government sources of eviction prevention money,” said Dominican Sister Donna Markham, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA.
“Part of the sadness in this, we know that essential to the whole area of the social determinant of health and well-being is housing. When our folks are losing their homes, it just cascades into hunger, mental illness, physical illness, especially in the middle of a pandemic,” she said.
In an email to CNS Aug. 5, a Treasury Department official estimated that about $3 billion had been distributed to renters and landlords through early August.
The billions allocated for Emergency Rental Assistance were included in two legislative measures: $25 billion in a COVID-19 relief and omnibus spending bill passed in December and $21.5 billion in the American Rescue Plan passed in March.
The first allocation to states and localities was completed Feb. 10, the official said. About…