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3 U.S. Agencies Pressure States to Help Evicted Tenants

HUD, the Treasury and the U.S. Attorney General sent a letter to local and state governments, asking them to work with the courts and even consider a local eviction ban.

WASHINGTON – In the shadow of the Supreme Court ruling that the latest iteration of the nationwide eviction moratorium is illegal, Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Marcia L. Fudge, Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen and Attorney General of the Department of Justice Merrick B. Garland sent a letter to state and local government leaders asking for their help.

The full text of the letter is available online.

In the letter, the department heads made a case for helping tenants threatened with eviction, saying the delta variant has sparked a rise in cases while “millions remain at risk for eviction.” It then noted the things each department is doing so far to minimize evictions, including:

The “Treasury Department remains laser-focused on partnering with state and local governments to get Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) funds out the door and into the hands of renters and landlords.”

The Department of Justice wrote a letter to all state court Chief Justices and court administrators “encouraging them to implement eviction diversion programs that delay or stop eviction proceedings until renters and landlords have had the chance to apply for rental assistance.”

HUD now requires public housing authorities and landlords that receive federal project-based rental assistance to offer additional protections to tenants at risk of eviction.

The letter suggested the following to local leaders:

  • Enact state and local eviction moratoriums during the remainder of the public health emergency.
  • Work with state and local courts to require landlords to apply for ERA before they commence eviction proceedings.
  • Stay eviction proceedings while an ERA application is pending.
  • Use ERA and American Rescue Plan State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to support the right to counsel and eviction diversion strategies. Tenants are more likely to avoid eviction and remain stably housed when they have access to legal representation.
  • Help tenants navigate the ERA application process.

The department heads thank local governments and say they’ll keep engaging with them over the coming weeks and days.

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