The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Wednesday introduced its new Rental Assistance Finder, a search tool anyone can use to quickly access more than 700 emergency rental assistance programs local, state and tribal governments have launched nationwide. 

The search tool allows users to filter assistance programs by location to find help near them. 

What You Need To Know

  • Consumer agency unveils new Rental Assistance Finder

  • The tool allows users to filter programs by location

  • The CDC's eviction moratorium is expected to expire July 31

  • A wave of evictions could follow the ban's end, experts say

The CFPB’s new resource comes just three days before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to allow its eviction moratorium to expire July 31. It’s the latest in a series of efforts from the federal agency to try to help people struggling with housing costs during the pandemic: homeowners, renters and landlords alike. 

“Small landlords who own the majority of single-family and duplex rental homes have been hit hard by the pandemic, even as the large, professionally managed landlord businesses have only experienced slight drops in their income,” CFPB Acting Director Dave Ueijo said. “At the CFPB, we want small landlords to know that we have help for them, too.”

Recently, the CFPB expressed concern about the use of standard tenant screening methods during the COVID pandemic, warning landlords and consumer reporting agencies they will be held responsible for reporting any misleading or inaccurate eviction information about tenants. 

As the CDC’s eviction ban sunsets, affordable-housing advocates are decrying what they predict will be a wave of evictions that could have been avoided, if governments had implemented more effective, immediate prevention strategies.

Across the country and in Central Florida, emergency rental assistance has been slow to reach people in need. Spectrum News viewers have reported experiencing a range of issues with local ERA programs — from landlords who refuse to accept rental assistance, to burdensome and lengthy application processes that may discourage people from seeking help. 

In early May, Treasury issued guidance clarifying, programs can and should offer assistance directly to eligible tenants in cases where landlords refuse to participate. “It is unacceptable to allow Americans to suffer eviction or homelessness simply because some landlords are turning down Federal aid on their behalf,” Treasury’s guidance reads.

As of mid-June, a quarter of all ERA programs across the country explicitly allowed for direct-to-tenant assistance, according to a new report from The National Low Income Housing Coalition. The report recommends several ways state and local programs can better serve renters directly, by: removing burdensome documentation requirements from the application process; clarifying publicly that tenants can receive aid directly; and providing housing stability services to help keep renters stably housed after paying their back rent.

People in need of housing assistance in Central Florida can check out the CFPB’s new search tool to see all the local ERA programs in their area. Other local assistance programs also can be found on Spectrum News's housing help resource page.

Molly Duerig is a Report for America corps member who is covering affordable housing for Spectrum News 13. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.