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National eviction ban set to expire soon — Biden administration urges states to get rental aid out now

"We have to do everything we can to prevent heartbreak for families and economic distress."

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U.S. President Joe Biden speaks before signing an executive order in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Friday, July 9, 2021.
Alex Edelman | CNP | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The national eviction ban is expiring on July 31 — and millions of Americans could lose their homes.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says 11 million Americans are not caught up with their rent payments, and nearly half of respondents in a recent U.S. Census Bureau poll of 7.4 million adult renters said it's "very likely" or "somewhat likely" they'll be evicted by September.

While Congress approved over $45 billion in federal rental assistance as part of the last two stimulus packages, only about $3 billion had been distributed by June, covering around 300,000 households. That's up from 160,000 households in May, but with the moratorium scheduled to end soon, the White House is pushing states to move faster.

"We have to do everything we can to prevent heartbreak for families and economic distress for landlords," Gene Sperling, a senior advisor to President Joe Biden, said at the White House Eviction Prevention Summit on June 30.

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What to do if you can't pay rent because of coronavirus

Video by David Fang

Financial aid for renters is trickling in slowly

Rental assistance advocates point to extensive application requirements and lack of preparedness for the slow rollout. Before the pandemic, no major infrastructure existed to dole out millions of dollars in a short period. Plus, some landlords have been resistant to the process.

To get aid, renters must earn an income of less than $99,000 in 2020 or 2021, and attest to such on an official declaration form. They also need to prove that they lost their job, had their wage cut, or experienced adversity in another way.

What the White House is doing and how to seek help

The Biden administration is pushing states to loosen the qualifications to make it easier for tenants to get money. The White House also said programs should allow direct payments to renters if their landlord is hesitant.   

If you're behind on rent, try talking to your landlord or property manager to negotiate options. If that fails, apply for aid. The National Low Income Housing Coalition offers a list of more than 450 programs for renters, which may cover up to 18 months of past and future payments.

"There are many government agencies and nonprofits that offer assistance in the form of grants and loans, says Joshua Haley, founder of Moving Astute. "If you are in immediate danger of losing your home, then look for the program that targets households with a high risk of homelessness. Most counties have the risk-assessment tool."

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