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Treasury says $1.5 billion distributed in rental assistance in June as eviction moratorium end looms

With a federal ban on evictions scheduled to expire at the end of the month, the Treasury Department is set to announce Wednesday $1.5 billion in rental assistance has been distributed across the country in the last month — more than in the last five months combined, according to an administration official. States and cities have struggled to distribute funds to tenants and landlords, and the news comes as the White House is slated to hold its second eviction prevention summit later on Wednesday.

More than 11 million Americans — 16% of renters — are still behind on their rent payments, according to analysis by the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities. In the early days of the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention implemented an eviction moratorium, but it's scheduled to expire on July 31, adding a sense of urgency for those who are eligible for assistance but have yet to receive it.

Congress approved more than $46 billion in rental assistance between December and March for both tenants and landlords, but getting it into their hands has proved challenging. Exact amounts renters and landlords can receive depend on their income and where they live, but renters could get enough to cover rent from as far back as March 13, 2020, unpaid utilities and even, in some cases, future rent.

However, many states and cities didn't have the infrastructure in place to distribute the funds, and struggled to piece together systems to dispense it. By the end of May, only a fraction of the money had gone out. Housing activists told CBS News earlier this month that further delays could lead to a historic wave of evictions in the coming months.

But the new Treasury Department data, obtained by CBS News, shows that more than $1.5 billion in assistance was delivered to eligible households in the month of June alone — an 85% increase from the previous month, and nearly triple the amount distributed since April. Administration officials point to this as a pivotal sign of progress in the program and an indication that once local communities establish a system for handling the money, they're able to distribute it quickly.

Both rents and home prices have skyrocketed in recent months, especially as the spread of the Delta variant has spooked markets and investors. Many states have implemented their own patchwork protection plans for vulnerable renters, either extending their own eviction moratoriums or improving legal access for tenants facing evictions. And administration officials say they recognize that the federal money still isn't flowing quickly enough in many places.

Wednesday's White House summit will convene over 2,000 local officials, landlord and tenant advocates, legal experts and other participants from 46 cities, according to a White House official, in an effort to answer questions and raise awareness about emergency rental assistance and eviction prevention strategies. Speakers are expected to include Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, both of whom have led eviction prevention programs in their cities. 

The CDC's eviction moratorium has been extended several times, but the July 31 expiration date is expected to be final. Administration officials say they hope the summit will give local officials, courts, legal advocates and community organizations a plan to prevent the deadline from turning into an eviction crisis.

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