U.S. Treasury releases $21.6 billion rental assistance, aims to aid renters directly

FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Treasury building is seen in Washington
·1 min read

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Treasury Department on Friday said it has allocated an additional $21.6 billion for rental assistance under President Joe Biden's coronavirus rescue package, adding new rules aimed at assisting more renters directly.

The Treasury said that new guidance to local agencies administering rental assistance programs allows them for the first time to offer aid directly to renters first, before offering it to landlords. It also now requires that aid funds must be offered directly to renters when landlords do not participate in such programs.

It also said that the length of time that renters must wait to receive rental funds was cut in half to as little as five days after determining a landlord is not participating in the rental assistance program.

The Treasury's announcement follows a federal court ruling on Wednesday that threw out an eviction moratorium imposed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a setback for millions of Americans who have fallen behind on rent payments during the pandemic. The same judge put a temporary hold on her ruling as the government seeks to overturn it on appeal.

Under the assistance program, Treasury said its guidance now requires local agencies to prohibit eviction of renters for non payment during months in which they receive rental assistance.

(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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