August Treasury Data Show Increasing ERA Fund Distribution
The U.S. Department of the Treasury released updated Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) spending data through Aug. 31. The data shows that state and local ERA programs have distributed more than 1.4 million payments to households, totaling more than $7.7 billion to support the housing stability of vulnerable renters.
After only a slight increase in spending between June and July, August saw a substantial increase in the rate of spending. Grantees spent $550 million more in August than in July. By comparison, programs spent $196 million more in July than they did in June. The updated data reflects significant progress in ERA spending for programs.
Adopting Treasury’s Flexibilities Improves Flow of Funds
The data also shows that many of the states and localities that saw the most growth have recently adopted the Treasury’s guidance and flexibilities. The flexibilities include allowing grantees to accept self-certification from applicants who aren’t able to provide documentation about their income and other eligibility criteria. Many of the states and localities employing these flexibilities to allow applicants to more easily complete their applications have seen significant growth in their ability to get funds into the hands of eligible tenants and landlords quickly in order to prevent evictions.
For example, North Carolina created a streamlined application process. The state increased adoption of self-attestation in order to lower application barriers. At the same time, North Carolina’s program has a compliance team and an outside vendor supporting its internal audit procedures to guard against instances of fraud. Owners must sign an agreement stipulating that ERA funds will be applied to rental arrears and, if applicable, future rent. Owners who accept these funds must also agree that they won’t evict that tenant for the term of the period covered by the assistance plus 60 days. The state also ensures that the owner isn’t receiving any other rent or utility relief for that period, which helps increase trust in the system. North Carolina spent more than $200 million of its ERA1 funds over the course of July and August; the state was approaching the halfway point of its ERA1 allocation by the end of August.
Similarly, Gwinnett County, Ga., adopted updated guidance provided by the Treasury in recent months to help get rental assistance dollars out into the community. The county has incorporated self-attestation and proxies for income based on census tracts and enrollment in local benefits programs (SNAP, WIC, and other programs) into its application process.