WASHINGTON (KAMR/KCIT) — A new national eviction moratorium was introduced this week after the White House received pressure from a group of progressive Democrats who had been camping out on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.
The former national moratorium expired at the end of July. The new one lasts until October 3rd and covers areas with substantial or high levels of COVID-19 transmission, like much of the Texas Panhandle.
“This is a win for every single family,” said California Representative Jimmy Gomez.
The news is coming as a relief to an Amarillo-area lawyer who said she’s already seen local evictions surge recently and had expected them to increase once the former eviction lapsed.
“This is a promising sign for tenants who have been impacted by COVID-19.” said Kay Pechin, an attorney with Legal Aid Northwest Texas.
The funds could support renters once the moratorium ends.
“This gives them time to apply for those resources and seize those resources,” Pechin said.
47 billion dollars is available for rental assistance. Just 3 billion dollars has made it to the people who need it.
“That’s a huge thing that people still don’t know that there’s money available,” said Missouri Representative Cori Bush.
”The states and localities got to get that money out, you lose your home, all is lost,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. (D-NY)
The members of congress acknowledged that another reason the money isn’t getting out is because of challenges for local governments.
Gomez said they need to offer more oversight over local governments to make sure the money gets to the people who need it. Pechin said she wasn’t sure how much that would help. She says people in the Amarillo area haven’t faced much difficulty getting rental assistance locally, but that the state system has been slow.
Most important to her is that they need to get the word out about the assistance programs.
“I think we need to get the word out that the resources are available to people and convince them that they might be eligible, and they have nothing to lose by applying for these resources,” Pechin said.
There are a number of ways to apply for rent relief including Panhandle Community Services, the Texas Rent Relief Program, the Texas Eviction Diversion program, the Salvation Army, and the VA.