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Bill to Expand Access to Emergency Rental Assistance Funds Introduced

Yesterday, Congresswoman Cori Bush (MO-01) introduced legislation to improve and expand access to emergency rental assistance by allowing individuals to apply for funds at public schools, libraries, transit systems, housing authorities, the United States Postal Service, and other public entities.

The Missouri Democrat’s proposal (pdf) comes after Congress failed this summer to halt evictions, despite pressure from Bush and other progressives who slept on the steps of the U.S. Capitol; the Treasury Department announced that only $5.1 billion had been disbursed from the over $46 billion that federal lawmakers have directed toward rental aid in two relief packages, and the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Biden administration’s last-ditch eviction moratorium.

“It is our duty as lawmakers to ensure the 11 million households currently at risk of eviction can safely remain in their homes for the duration of this deadly global pandemic,” Bush said in a statement. “The Supreme Court’s failure to protect these individuals and families has only increased the urgency with which Congress must act to get emergency rental assistance to those who need it most.”

The Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) Improvement Act of 2021, she explained, “will help make these funds more accessible by allowing individuals and families to apply for assistance at places that are central to their communities—schools, libraries, the post office, among others.”

The legislation directs the Treasury Department to provide guidance to state and local authorities to make the rental aid application available in K-12 schools, libraries, housing agencies, public transit systems, courts that handle eviction matters, state departments of motor vehicles, the U.S. Postal Service, and federal, state, and local social service providers within 30 days of the bill being enacted.

“As someone who has been evicted and unhoused, I know the trauma these families are facing,” Bush said. “This crisis demands compassionate solutions, and I urge my colleagues to consider the humanity of our neighbors who could soon find themselves without a home unless drastic action is taken.”

 

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