$20 million HUD grant doubles size of eviction legal help

FILE - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge testifies before the Senate Appropriations Committee on President Joe Biden's budget requests, at the Capitol in Washington, June 10, 2021. HUD is doubling the size of its eviction protection program, designed to fund legal assistance for tenants seeking to stay in their homes. Fudge described the new funding as a doubling down on a proven method of easing the financial damage wrought by the COVID pandemic. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

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FILE - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge testifies before the Senate Appropriations Committee on President Joe Biden's budget requests, at the Capitol in Washington, June 10, 2021. HUD is doubling the size of its eviction protection program, designed to fund legal assistance for tenants seeking to stay in their homes. Fudge described the new funding as a doubling down on a proven method of easing the financial damage wrought by the COVID pandemic. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is doubling the size of its eviction protection program, designed to fund legal assistance for tenants seeking to stay in their homes

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Department of Housing and Urban Development is doubling the size of its eviction protection program, designed to fund legal assistance for tenants seeking to stay in their homes.

The $20 million HUD grant, announced Monday, will not provide any sort of direct rental relief; instead, it will fund legal services and representations for families facing eviction. The funds will be distributed through the Eviction Protection Grant Program to 11 nonprofit organizations and government entities, with grants ranging from $1 million to $2.4 million. Recipients of the fresh wave of funding include Pine Tree Legal Assistance of Portland, Maine, and the city of San Antonio, Texas.

HUD launched the Eviction Protection Grant Program last November, with an original $20 million awarded to 10 legal service providers.

HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge described the new funding as a doubling down on a proven method of easing the financial damage wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We need to keep doing all that we can to help people maintain quality housing," Fudge said in a statement. “We know that access to legal services and eviction diversion programs works. It helps people avoid evictions and protects tenants’ rights.”

The funding can also be used to help landlords access emergency rental assistance and will generally help reduce caseloads in eviction courts around the country, Fudge said.

And the grant program is expected to particularly help people of color — they are disproportionately represented among those evicted — as well as tenants with limited English proficiency and people with disabilities, the department said.