Treasury: Most COVID rent aid went to low-income residents

WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 80% of billions of dollars in federal rental assistance aimed at keeping families in their homes during the pandemic has gone to low-income renters, the Treasury Department said Thursday.

It also found that the largest percentage of tenants receiving pandemic aid were black, followed by households. In the fourth quarter of 2021, the Treasury found that more than 40% of tenants receiving assistance were black and two-thirds of recipients were female-headed households. The data was consistent with what the Treasury has seen throughout the year.

“It’s money flowing from the treasury to every state and territory in the country, and we’ve really seen a real focus on delivering those dollars,” said Noel Andrés Poyo, assistant undersecretary for community economic development. at the Treasury. “It’s been encouraging from my perspective to see very diverse states and to see these agencies looking at something really difficult, it was really difficult to get these programs in place, this data reflects where the need was .”

According to the Princeton University Deportation Lab, the women most likely to be deported are low-income women, especially women of color. Victims of domestic violence and families with children are also at high risk of deportation.

“It’s really encouraging to see so much of the housing assistance reaching those who need it most: women, black renters and low-income households in particular,” said Peter Hepburn, a researcher at the Eviction Lab. “These are the groups most at risk of eviction and who have been hardest hit by the economic impacts of the pandemic. They are the ones that this money was supposed to help.

Lawmakers approved $46.5 billion in emergency rental assistance last year. After the first difficulties in withdrawing the funds, the pace of distribution has accelerated considerably in recent months. Throughout 2021, over $25 billion has been spent and committed. This represents 3.8 million payments to households, the Treasury announced on Thursday.

The agency’s findings on beneficiaries showed that their efforts to reach low-income communities over the past year had paid off.

Among other things, the Treasury recommended that states and localities make applications multilingual and introduced flexible guidelines that allow renters to self-certify their income. He also targeted hard-to-reach communities and worked to promote the rental assistance program in black and Spanish media.

“A year later, the Treasury is pleased to report that the vast majority of rental assistance has gone to keep the lowest income families in their homes during the pandemic,” Assistant Secretary Wally Adeyemo said in a statement. a statement. “This was not by accident, and we continue to use every lever to ensure these funds are distributed equitably and encourage state and local recipients to increase ease of access.”


Casey reported from Boston.

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