Pelosi and Yellen to Discuss Rental Assistance as Eviction Crisis Looms

The meeting came as the White House faced an uproar from progressive Democrats, who fault the administration for not finding a way to extend the eviction ban.,


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Yellen and Pelosi discuss rental assistance as an eviction crisis looms and Democrats demand answers.

Janet Yellen, U.S. Treasury Secretary, center, departed the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Tuesday.Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

Aug. 3, 2021, 10:38 a.m. ET

Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen briefed Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats on Tuesday morning about the struggling emergency rental assistance program as the Biden administration scrambles to keep people in their homes following the expiration of a temporary eviction moratorium.

The meeting came as the White House faced an uproar from progressive Democrats, who fault the administration for not finding a way to extend the eviction ban that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention imposed last fall as a Covid-19 relief measure.

Ms. Pelosi, for her part, has been trying close the gap between Democratic progressives and a group of about a dozen moderates in her caucus who blocked efforts to pass a bill last week that would have extended the freeze through the end of the year.

At a White House meeting with President Biden on Friday, Ms. Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, bluntly informed Mr. Biden they did not have the votes to pass an extension — and pressed him to take whatever action he could using his executive power, according to two Democratic congressional aides briefed on the meeting.

The Biden administration has said that it lacks the legal authority to extend the moratorium and has called on Congress to find a legislative solution. On Monday, the administration called on states to ramp up their efforts to provide more federal aid to struggling renters — while issuing a desperate plea for localities to extend their own local moratoriums.

In a letter to colleagues on Tuesday, Ms. Pelosi said she would discuss with Ms. Yellen how to expedite the disbursement of the $46.5 billion that Congress allocated to keep people in their homes.

“I am pleased that accelerating rental assistance is a stated priority of the administration,” Ms. Pelosi said.

But senior Democrats have been pushing the White House to do more.

“I wish that the president, the C.D.C. would have gone forward and extended the moratorium,” Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California who is chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, said in an interview with The New York Times on Monday. “They have the power to do that. I think he should have gone in and he should have done it, and let the chips fall where they may.”

With the moratorium in limbo, Ms. Yellen is under added pressure to make the rental assistance money flow. Only about $3 billion of the $46 billion had been delivered to eligible households through June, according to Treasury Department data.

In recent weeks, Ms. Yellen’s deputy, Wally Adeyemo, visited Houston and Arlington, Va., where rental assistance distribution has been going well, to help raise awareness about the program and understand how to make it more effective.

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