The Biden administration announced the allocation of $21.6 billion in emergency rental assistance to help prevent evictions of people who lost jobs during the pandemic.

The administration also announced changes Friday in the rental assistance program aimed at addressing criticism that the emergency support has not reached many who need the help.

This latest round of aid for renters was included in the $1.9 trillion relief package President Joe Biden pushed through Congress in March. It followed $25 billion in emergency rental assistance in the $900 billion COVID-19 crelief bill passed by Congress in December.

Administration officials said the additional support was urgently needed because nearly 7 million Americans reported being behind in their rent payments in late April. More than 40% of those renters worry that they could be evicted over the next two months.

Among the changes announced by the administration Friday, government agencies implementing the rental relief program will be required to offer assistance directly to renters if landlords choose not to participate. Also, the waiting time for delivering the assistance to renters has been cut in half if landlords decide not to participate in the program.

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