Several states, including Texas, have been particularly effective in ramping up their aid distribution systems, officials said. But many others — especially New York, Florida, Tennessee, Ohio and South Carolina — have been sluggish, making tenants especially vulnerable to displacement once the moratorium is lifted, they said.
But there are signs that things might be changing: New York released only a minuscule portion of its funding by Aug. 1, but has spent about $200 million in the last few weeks, according to a spokesman for the state agency that disburses the aid.
Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York, who was sworn in this week, has said speeding up the system is one of her top priorities.
States that have not used much of their money by the end of September could see their funds reallocated to other states that have been able to distribute it more effectively.
It will take local housing courts weeks to clear the backlog of eviction cases delayed by the moratorium. But many owners, especially small landlords, have rejected the federal aid, arguing that evicting nonpaying tenants is not only their right but the most effective way of ensuring their revenue is not interrupted in the future.
Last week, Wally Adeyemo, deputy Treasury secretary, traveled to Hyattsville, Md., to talk to landlords, tenants and administrators of a rental assistance program that has had success by using self-reported applications and census data to determine eligibility.
Administration officials, worried that a new moratorium could be struck down at any time, are also turning to state courts — which adjudicate tenant-landlord disputes — to help deliver aid, by pressuring landlords to accept federal payments instead of proceeding with evictions, and educating tenants, who often have no legal representation in court, on their right to apply for assistance.