About 89% of federal rental assistance funds to prevent eviction stemming from the pandemic have not been distributed, Treasury Department data show.
In July, "more than 340,000 households received nearly $1.7 billion in rental and utilities assistance, a roughly 15% increase in households served compared to June, and more than double the number of households served in May," the Treasury Department said in a press release on Wednesday.
Though July saw a small increase in distribution compared to previous months, the Emergency Rental Assistance Program has disbursed about $5.1 billion total of the $46.5 billion rental aid program. That means about 11% of the cash allocated by Congress to the program has been distributed.
"About a million payments have now gone out to families — it is starting to help a meaningful number of families," Gene Sperling, who oversees the operation of federal pandemic relief programs for President Biden, told the New York Times.
"It’s just not close to enough in an emergency like this to protect all the families who need and deserve to be protected. So there is still way more to do and to do fast," he added.
The figures come after the Biden administration asked the Supreme Court on Monday to leave the pandemic-related federal ban on residential evictions in place as landlord groups challenge the legality of it.
The Supreme Court had ruled 4-5 in June to allow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to continue its moratorium until July 31, and said that any future extensions would be in Congress’s hands.
Congress, however, couldn’t muster the votes before the deadline to extend the moratorium, and the Biden administration subsequently announced a new targeted moratorium on evictions, sparking concerns and questions about the legality of the move. The president even said when he announced the new targeted eviction ban that he spoke with constitutional experts and conceded that "the bulk of" them said "it’s not likely to pass constitutional muster."
Fox News's Peter Doocy also questioned White House press secretary Jen Psaki earlier this month about why there isn't "more being done to help the landlords who are struggling to pay their bills because they're not being paid."
"Well actually the landlords can benefit from exactly the same emergency rental assistance that renters can benefit from," she responded.
"Right now, as we understand it, many states are not distributing that money," Doocy continued. "The Washington Post says that this measure could drive thousands of minor landlords to bankruptcy."
"Well that's exactly why," Psaki added. "And I'm happy to have you as a partner in this effort, we are trying to advocate for states, localities to get this money out. There's no reason it's not going out to landlords, to renters, no reason that people who are eligible are not benefiting, and we've seen a number of states – red states and blue states – do this very effectively."
Now, landlords and real estate trade groups are challenging the latest moratorium imposed by the CDC, which is scheduled to run until Oct. 3.