The Treasury Department today announced seven additional policies to encourage state and local governments to expedite emergency rental assistance (ERA) to eligible renters and landlords.
Congress has appropriated $46.5 billion for emergency rental assistance but state and local governments have only distributed less than $6 billion to date. The guidelines announced by Treasury are designed to streamline the application process and help state and local governments to get rental assistance to those in need. They include the following:
- Self-attestation can be used in documenting each aspect of a household’s eligibility for ERA, including with respect to: a) financial hardship, b) the risk of homelessness or housing instability, and c) income.
- During the public health emergency, state and local ERA programs may rely on self-attestation alone to document household income eligibility when documentation is not available.
- State and local grantees may advance assistance to landlords and utility providers based on estimated eligible arrears.
- State and local grantees may enter into partnership with nonprofits to deliver advance assistance to households at risk of eviction while their applications are still being processed.
- Grantees may make additional rent payments to landlords that take on tenants facing major barriers to securing a lease, including those who have been evicted or experienced homelessness in the past year.
- At a tenant’s request, past rental or utility arrears at previous addresses may be covered.
- A tenant’s costs associated with obtaining a hearing or appealing an order of eviction may be covered with ERA funds as an eligible “other expense.”
In a separate letter to state and local emergency assistance rental program grantees, Treasury strongly encouraged them to provide greater protections in place for tenants facing evictions. Treasury also reminded them that, beginning Sept. 30, the ERA1 statute (which provides up to $25 billion of ERA funds under the Consolidated Appropriations Act) requires Treasury to recapture excess funds that have not been obligated by a state or other grantee and reallocate those resources to high-performing jurisdictions that have obligated at least 65% of their original allocation.
Separately, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced that to assist tenants and property owners, it will now offer:
- Additional support to property owners waiting to receive the U.S. Treasury’s ERA funds by allowing them access to reserves for operating shortfalls;
- Financial incentives to property management agents that tap ERA to clear arrearages; and
- Increased support from USDA field staff to amplify ERA to local leaders and public housing authorities in rural communities.
For more information, contact Michelle Kitchen.