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End of eviction ban doesn't cause spike
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Chandra Dobbs was stunned when the constable showed up on her doorstep with a fat packet of eviction papers. She thought she had more time.
"I didn’t think I was going to be evicted because I applied for rental assistance money," Dobbs said a few days later. "But they didn’t want to wait the four to six weeks. So now we’re homeless – me, my 16-year-old son, my daughter and my grandchild, a toddler."
Her confusion is a common theme across America at a time when the federal government has ended renter protections while doling out billions of dollars in rental assistance. Instead of the expected surge in evictions, many landlords are holding off, waiting for the federal money to come through.
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But while a few jurisdictions bar landlords from evicting renters who have applied for the money, most do not.
Court records show the eviction judgment against Dobbs was for $3,837, which included $2,700 in rent plus late fees and court and legal costs. Encore Management LLC, which filed for the eviction, did not respond to a request for comment about its side of the case.
Dobbs, who was laid off from her job as an exotic dancer during the pandemic, said her family is staying temporarily with friends while working with a nonprofit to find a new home and get money for a rent deposit.
After a slow start, the pace to distribute the first $25 billion installment of $46.5 billion in rental assistance is picking up. Treasury Department officials said the program had served 420,000 households in August — up from 340,000 in July — and distributed $7.7 billion since January.
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Treasury officials said the strong signs of progress came from New Jersey, New York, and South Carolina, which at first struggled to get their programs going. New Jersey, for example, sent out no money in the first quarter but now has distributed 78% of its first-installment money and doubled the number of households served in August compared with July.
Spending in Florida increased from $60.9 million in July to $141.4 million in August while South Carolina went from $10.6 million to $25.3 million. New York saw a jump from $8.5 million to $307 million.
"These numbers are still early, uncertain and there is likely additional pain and hardship not showing up in these reports," said Gene Sperling, who is charged with overseeing the implementation of Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package. "But what is out so far is certainly better than anyone’s previous best-case scenario for the month after the moratorium."
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