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Pam Fessler

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The federal eviction moratorium is set to expire at the end of this month, which doesn't leave much time to help an estimated 7 million tenants who are still behind on their rent.

Efforts have been stepped up to distribute some $46 billion in emergency rental assistance, and to head off eviction cases before they end up in court.

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Black and Hispanic families in the United States are far less likely than white families to own their own homes. It's been that way for decades, but the gap is wider today than it was before passage of the 1968 Fair Housing Act.

This has led to other racial disparities, such as the ability of families to build wealth or to get a good education.

But efforts are being made to close the gap, especially now that the pandemic appears to have exacerbated the divide.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has extended a moratorium on evictions until the end of July. The ban had been set to expire next week, raising concerns that there could be a flood of evictions with some 7 million tenants currently behind on their rent.

Among the many problems the Biden administration is facing is a surge in homelessness. More than 580,000 people in the U.S. were homeless at the beginning of last year, prior to the pandemic. The number is expected to grow this year, especially if a federal eviction moratorium ends on June 30 as scheduled.

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Updated May 11, 2021 at 7:14 PM ET

The Senate Rules Committee on Tuesday held a contentious markup of legislation to revamp the nation's voting and campaign finance rules, laying bare the deep partisan divide over how elections should be run.

A series of party-line votes on amendments made clear there is little ground for compromise, and the bill's fate is very much in doubt in the upper chamber.

The Biden administration is preparing to release $5 billion in new housing vouchers, approved in the latest COVID relief bill. The goal is to help 70,000 low-income families at risk of homelessness due to the pandemic.

But, even in the best of times, it can be hard to use such vouchers, which allow recipients to pay one-third of their income on rent, with the government covering the rest. Many landlords won't accept them and the vouchers are often hard to come by. Some families have to wait years to get one.

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The Southern Towers apartment complex in Alexandria, Va., —right outside Washington, D.C.,—is like a city. It has five massive high-rise apartment buildings, along with its own bank, dry cleaners, and 7-Eleven.

Buses stream through the parking lot, constantly picking up and dropping off tenants, who use the transit system to get to work at nearby office buildings, hotels, restaurants, and nursing homes.

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

The same day last month that Georgia's legislature passed a controversial new voting bill, Missouri's Republican-led House approved one of its own. It would impose strict photo ID and other requirements on voting.

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The nation's homeless population grew last year for the fourth year in a row. On a single night in January 2020, there were more than 580,000 individuals who were homeless in the United States, a 2% increase from the year before.

The numbers, released by the Department of Housing and Urban Development Thursday, do not reflect the impact of the pandemic.

If there's one thing tenants and landlords can agree on during this pandemic, it's that emergency rental assistance is sorely needed. Millions of Americans have been unable to pay their rent for months, and landlords — who have their own bills to pay — are also hurting. By some estimates, tenants are already more than $50 billion in arrears.

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It's a simple fact. Black and brown families are more likely to be evicted than white ones. There are many reasons for this, but the pandemic has made matters worse and could widen the gap for years to come.

Aniya is a case in point. She's a mother of two, unemployed, struggling to get by. By the end of this month, she has to leave her two-bedroom apartment in Richmond, VA., and find a new place to live. This comes on top of an already tough 2020. We agreed not to use Aniya's full name because of possible repercussions on her ability to find another place to live.

Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge has a huge job ahead of her, if she's confirmed as the nation's 18th secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Judging from a largely positive hearing Thursday before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, she appears headed for approval.

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SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

Every January, in the middle of the night, thousands of volunteers and outreach workers spread out across the country to count the nation's homeless population. They search highway underpasses, wooded areas, abandoned buildings and sidewalks to locate those who are living outside.

But this year, because of the pandemic, the annual street count has been canceled or modified in hundreds of communities, even as the nation's unsheltered population appears to be growing.

Republicans opposing Wednesday's electoral count have one proposal to deal with the controversy — that Congress delay action for 10 days so an "emergency" electoral commission can audit the results and investigate voter fraud claims in the contested states.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, cited public opinion polls about the fidelity of the presidential election as a reason for the establishment of such a commission.

Florida resident Kirk Nielsen was very careful when he went to vote this fall. He did it early and deposited his mail-in ballot in one of many drop boxes provided by his local election office in Miami-Dade County.

"So early voting, drop box. Checked the supervisor of elections website a couple of days later and it was tabulated," he said. "It worked swell."

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One of the top federal officials responsible for securing the nation's elections is speaking out days after leaving his job with the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

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