A preliminary analysis of emergency rental assistance program features and spending performance
WASHINGTON, DC– The University of Pennsylvania’s Housing Initiative at Penn (HIP) and the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) announced today the release of their joint report, Treasury Emergency Rental Assistance Programs in 2021: Preliminary Analysis of Program Features and Spending Performance. The report analyzes key emergency rental assistance (ERA) program features and outcomes, using NLIHC’s ERA database, a survey of ERA program administrators, and expenditure data from the U.S. Departments of the Treasury.
“This report provides yet more evidence that ERA programs adopting U.S. Treasury-recommended flexibilities like self-attestation, fact-based proxies and categorial eligibility for income-eligibility and other requirements, rather than insisting on onerous documentation from renters, are more effective at getting critical resources to people in dire need,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel. “Many programs adopting such flexibilities are performing well; those that are not need to change course.”
Based on NLIHC’s ERA database, programs that used categorical eligibility or fact-specific proxy for income eligibility spent a higher share of their ERA allocations by September 30, 2021, on average, than programs that did not. Surveyed programs typically expected demand for the program to exceed the number of households they could serve. Due to funding constraints, the median program expected to serve 62% of completed applications it expected to receive.
The report shows that programs that adopted self-attestation for at least one eligibility criterion during the summer had, on average, spent a greater share of their allocations during the summer than programs that never adopted self-attestation. Programs that adopted self-attestation for both income and COVID-related hardship during the summer had, on average, spent a greater share of their allocations during the summer than programs that adopted neither.
“Our research has consistently found that certain features of program design and implementation, such as self-attestation and partnerships with nonprofits, can improve the allocation of rent relief dollars” said Vincent Reina, Faculty Director of HIP. “However, ensuring assistance gets to applicants is just one measure of program performance. Going forward, we hope our work will shed more light on whether funds have been equitably distributed and the impact of this support on the housing stability and welfare of renters.”
Surveyed programs that provided direct-to-tenant assistance when the landlord refused to participate or was non-responsive spent, on average, a greater share of their allocation by July 31, 2021, than those that did not. The report also shows that programs that added direct-to-tenant assistance as a new design feature during the summer did not necessarily improve their average spending as much as programs that consistently had direct-to-tenant assistance or that never adopted it.
Treasury Emergency Rental Assistance Programs in 2021: Preliminary Analysis of Program Features and Spending Performance is available at: https://bit.ly/3E8h6TC
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About the National Low Income Housing Coalition
The National Low Income Housing Coalition is dedicated to achieving racially and socially equitable public policy that ensures people with the lowest incomes have quality homes that are accessible and affordable in the communities of their choice. NLIHC educates, organizes, and advocates to ensure decent, affordable housing for everyone. For more information about NLIHC, please visit www.nlihc.org.
About the University of Pennsylvania’s Housing Initiative at Penn
The Housing Initiative at Penn (HIP) is based out of PennPraxis at the University of Pennsylvania and conducts research that advances policymaking; designs and evaluates housing policies and programs; and facilitates housing networks and planning processes. Its mission is to advance effective, and equitable housing policy at the local, state, and national levels. For more information about HIP, please visit www.housinginitiative.org.