September 27, 2021

Covid-19 Rental Assistance Distribution Continues at Slow Pace

WASHINGTON—The U.S. program to help tenants and landlords struggling with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is still moving at a slow pace and has delivered a fraction of the promised aid, data released by the Treasury Department on Wednesday show.

Since December, Congress has appropriated a total of $46.6 billion to help tenants who were behind on their rent. As of July 31, just $4.7 billion had been distributed to landlords and tenants, the Treasury said.

Wednesday’s data show that rental aid has begun to move faster in some states, though July’s $1.7 billion reflected only a modest overall increase from the $1.5 billion distributed in June.

While the program is overseen by the Treasury, it relies on a patchwork of more than 450 state, county and municipal governments and charitable organizations to distribute aid. The result: months of delays as local governments built new programs from scratch, hired staff and crafted rules for how the money should be distributed, then struggled to process a deluge of applications.

Administration officials acknowledge the program has moved too slowly relative to the need. Still, they say it has provided nearly one million payments to households, including about 341,000 in July alone—an indication that it has provided meaningful relief to struggling tenants.

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