End Rental Arrears to Stop Evictions (ERASE) is a national effort led and coordinated by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC). ERASE is designed to ensure that the historic aid enacted by Congress reaches the lowest-income and most marginalized renters it is intended to help. The project seeks to eliminate rental indebtedness caused by the pandemic and to prevent evictions by tracking and analyzing emergency rental assistance utilization; documenting and sharing best practices and toolkits; influencing and shaping program design at federal, state, local levels; developing key partnerships for outreach and education; and assessing the remaining needs to inform advocacy for long-term investments to end housing instability and homelessness in the United States.
Early success of ERASE includes, the National Emergency Rental Assistance Database and Resource Hub where people in need of rental assistance, advocates, and program administrators can access up-to-date information on more than 400 state and local ERA program as well as resources to support model design and implementation, case studies highlighting model ERA programs and their components, early stage research including surveys of ERA program administrators, and weekly national webinars and national knowledge sharing calls, all of which have contributed to program design, knowledge-sharing, federal guidance, and state and local advocacy efforts.
ERASE State and Local Call to Action
Many cities and states are creating or expanding emergency rental assistance programs to support individuals and families impacted by the pandemic. While many states and localities are developing model programs utilizing Treasury guidance, not all programs are getting money out fast enough or to those most in need. Data shows that those communities most at risk for eviction are also the communities with the lowest vaccination rates thus a greater risk for COVID 19.1 With a clear end date to the federal and several state eviction moratoria, states and localities need to work even harder to ensure that funds go to those most in need as quickly as possible. The ERASE Call to Action is design to build momentum and provide direction on how programs can have the most impact in the next 30 days.
NLIHC is asking state partners, local jurisdictions, and Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) administrators join us in a Call to Action. This Call to Action focuses on three key areas to ensure that ERAP is visible, accessible, and preventive:
- Visible: Conduct equitable and robust marketing and outreach efforts to ensure that all landlords and low-income renters know about the Emergency Rental Arrears Program (ERAP) and how to access it in their community.
- Accessible: Support access to and disbursement of financial support to landlords and tenants by ensuring an accessible, streamlined, and low-barrier ERAP application process.
- Preventive: Prevent housing displacement by creating formal partnerships with your state and/or local court to support eviction prevention and eviction diversion in coordination with ERAP.
1 Jin, Olivia, Lemmerman, Emily, Hepburn, Peter, and Desmond, Matthew. Eviction Lab. June 11, 2021. Neighborhoods with Highest Eviction Filing Rates have Lowest Levels of COVID-19 Vaccination (evictionlab.org)
In achievement of these goals, NLIHC will be working over the next month to engage state governors, mayors, program administrators, state local partners and advocacy coalitions, low-income renters, and landlords through the following activities:
- Request for Proposals to Support State and Local Capacity Building and Partnership Development to Influence Programs
- ERASE Call to Action Check Lists, Case Studies and Lessons Learned from the Field
- ERASE Webinar Series
- ERASE Peer Learning Cohort
- Research and Research Partnerships Related to Emergency Rental Assistance Programs
- Request for Proposals
A core component to the Call to Action is engaging stakeholders at state and local level to influence program design and implementation. NLIHC seeks to work with 20 – 25 state and local partners to support the ERASE Call to Action that will increase visibility, increase access, and ensure eviction prevention and diversion to mitigate the negative impacts of the nearing expiration of state and federal eviction moratoria. Funding and technical assistance provided though this RFP will support state and local partners efforts to influence program implementation through on-the-ground data tracking, marketing and outreach, partnership development, systems change, and policy reform needed to both shape and track state and local ERA programs and meet the goals of the ERASE Call to Action.
- Check Lists
NLIHC will provide concreate resources to assist state and local program design, implementation, and course correction. NLIHC has been conducting research, facilitating a cohort of 9 state partners as well as hosting weekly State and Local Partners Implementation Calls to gather themes and lessons learned from early implementation. NLIHC has utilized these learnings to develop case studies, implementation resources and the most recent ERASE Check Lists. The ERASE Check Lists provide concrete actions that programs can take to ensure ERA is visible, accessible, and preventative. NLIHC has linked the check lists with real examples and models via the Resource Hub. Program administrators, policy makers, state and local organizations can utilize the check list to assess programs and make program improvements.
- Webinar Series
Beginning in mid-July, NLIHC will launch the ERASE Webinar Series. The series will include three webinars, each covering one of the key focus areas included in the Call to Action: visible, accessible, and preventive. Webinars will guide participants through the key strategies, provide resources and highlight innovations from the field and provide a forum for shared learning and dialogue between jurisdictions.
- Peer Learning Cohort
In addition to national webinars, NLIHC will convene the RFP grantees in a Peer Learning Cohort to create a community of learning. Through this cohort, grantees will meet regularly to discuss program progress, challenges, problem solve and provide peer support. The cohort will be facilitated by NLIHC and will include subject matter experts as needed.
- Research and Research Partnerships
NLIHC has partnered with the University of Pennsylvania’s Housing Initiative at Penn (HIP) and NYU’s Furman Center to study the design and implementation of emergency rental assistance programs resulting in four reports published four reports. The first survey in 2020 of 220 CARES Act-funded programs identified challenges administrators faced and design features correlated with programs’ ability to serve a greater number of households. This was followed-up with in-depth interviews of administrators of 15 programs to learn more about their challenges and how they adapted their programs to meet those challenges. A third research brief by the partnership highlighted how programs could advance racial equity through their programs. The fourth report is based on a survey of 64 early implementers of Treasury ERA-funded programs. The findings highlight the continued challenge of inadequate staff and technological capacity, as well as tenant and landlord responsiveness. The partnership recently distributed a survey to more than 200 Treasury ERA programs to learn more about their successes and challenges, as well as measure their outcomes.
NLIHC partnered with the Center on Law and Social Policy (CLASP) to identify prioritization methods in use by emergency rental assistance programs. Based on interviews with program administrators and previous research, the report identifies strategies at six key decision points for prioritizing specific populations.
NLIHC’s research team continues to track emergency rental assistance programs created or expanded in response to COVID. We currently track more than 400 Treasury ERA programs, including programs’ eligibility criteria, documentation requirements, who provides direct-to-tenant assistance, who allows for self-attestation for select eligibility criteria, and other key program components. NLIHC’s team also produces mini-case studies of successful and innovated emergency rental assistance programs.