The Biden administration announced on January 7 a state-by-state breakdown of funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The administration is distributing an additional $4.5 billion in funds to help low-income Americans cover heating costs. The funding boost, which is part of the American Rescue Plan, more than doubled LIHEAP funding.
Department of Treasury
The Department of the Treasury (Treasury) released its November ERA report on January 7, announcing that state and local governments provided assistance to approximately 665,000 renters and landlords in November 2021, bringing the total number of ERA payments to more than $3.1 million. Read Treasury’s press release and NLIHC’s analysis of the spending report.
Treasury released the reallocation amounts for ERA1 Round 1 Reallocation and Voluntary Reallocation on January 7, as well as updated forms relevant for the second round of reallocation:
- Request for Reallocated Funds: Grantees that would like to be considered for additional ERA1 funds in the next round of reallocations must submit this form to Treasury’s portal by January 21, 2022
- Reallocated Funds Form with Exhibit C - Voluntary Reallocated Funds
Treasury published on January 6 a final rule on the coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) program, along with an overview of the final rule. The final rule presumes that an expanded set of households and communities are “impacted” and “disproportionately impacted” by the pandemic, allowing recipients to assist a broad set of individuals and households without requiring additional analysis. Further, the final rule expands eligible uses of SLFRF funds, including increasing access to affordable housing development, permanent supportive housing, and other programs to improve access to stable, affordable housing for individuals who are homeless. See NLIHC’s Memo, 1/10 and updated fact sheet to learn more.
State and local governments in November distributed the largest amount of emergency rental assistance (ERA) in a single month since the federal ERA program launched, the Associated Press reports. “Efforts by the Biden administration, advocates, program administrators, and others have significantly improved ERA programs and quickened the pace of ERA distribution, keeping millions of people stably housed,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel. With improved results, however, come concerns that the $46.5 billion ERA program will not reach all tenants who need assistance.
The New York Times reports that federal rental assistance funds are running out across the country, with millions of struggling tenants still in need of aid. New data from the U.S. Department of the Treasury underscore that the ERA program was never intended to be a long-term solution. Several states, including New York, Texas, and Oregon, have already distributed nearly their entire share of ERA.
Forbes reports some states – including New Jersey, New York, Texas, and Oregon – have stopped accepting applications for emergency rental assistance (ERA) since federal funds have been exhausted. The article provides information on how to find local ERA programs, linking to NLIHC’s ERA dashboard.
Route Fifty highlights Treasury’s ERA reallocation process, reporting that about $1.1 billion in federal rent relief funds will be redistributed. Most of the recaptured funds are being redistributed voluntarily within states, but some funds are being retrieved from states that did not meet the federal expenditure deadlines. The article links to NLIHC’s analysis of the latest ERA spending data.
The Associated Press reports the Biden administration is distributing an additional $4.5 billion in Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds to help low-income Americans cover heating costs, with cold-weather states receiving the largest share.
State and Local News
The Department of the Treasury approved an additional $68.7 million in emergency rental assistance (ERA) funds for California. The statewide Housing Is Key program has received applications requesting $4.2 billion more than California’s original allocation, and this number does not include applications submitted to the many local jurisdictions running their own rent relief programs.
Evictions are on the rise in Connecticut as the state cuts back on staffing for its rental assistance program due to a lack of funding. Advocates fear the situation will worsen in February when an executive order issued by Governor Ned Lamont expires, reducing the number of days landlords must give tenants notice before evicting them to just three.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury approved a direct allocation of $25 million in reallocated federal ERA funds for New Orleans. The additional funds are from other parishes that did not meet the federal expenditure deadline. City officials expect to receive the funds within a month and plan to begin distributing rent and utility payments immediately.
The Detroit Free Press reports Michigan has received more than 173,000 applications for its COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA) Program since launching in March 2021. Wayne County accounts for about one-third of those applications. According to the Michigan State Housing Development Authority’s dashboard, 46% of applications for rent and utility assistance were approved as of January 7.
Governor Kathy Hochul announced on January 11 that New York will allow its eviction and foreclosure moratorium to expire on January 15, but the state will once again let people apply for eviction protection and rent relief. Dozens of faith leaders called on Governor Hochul to extend New York’s eviction moratorium through June.
Law 360 reports State Judge Lynn Kotler ordered the New York Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance to reopen the application portal for the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), which stopped considering most new applications in mid-November as funds dwindled. Judge Kotler noted that ERAP applicants receive an automatic eviction stay while their paperwork is being processed. Tenants should “at least…have the benefit of being able to apply for ERA now and obtain their rightful place on a de facto waitlist,” wrote Judge Kotler in the three-page preliminary injunction order.
According to Axios, Philadelphia is altering the city’s eviction diversion program after closing its rental assistance program on January 7 due to low funds. Landlords seeking to evict will continue to be required to participate in the eviction diversion program through 2022, but there will be shortened mediation periods and opportunities to expedite the process.
Eviction filings in Allegheny County increased in November and December following the expiration of pandemic-related eviction moratoriums. Emergency rental assistance and a landlord-tenant mediation program have reduced the number of evictions, but funding for rent relief is dwindling.
Texas Housers is tracking the progress of state and local ERA distribution in Texas. Texas Housers’ ERA dashboard displays information on program expenditures and recipient characteristics for state and local ERA programs in Texas.
Staff of the Travis County Commissioners introduced a $1.6 million plan on January 11 that would allow the county to expand its agreements with the Austin Tenants’ Council, Volunteer Legal Services, and Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid for two years. A significant portion of those funds would go towards hiring lawyers to help tenants navigate the eviction process. Commissioners asked staff to provide a side-by-side comparison of potential funding options, including from the American Rescue Plan or the general fund.
The Spokane City Council narrowly approved an ordinance on January 10 that prevents landlords from seeking to evict a tenant awaiting a decision on their emergency rental assistance (ERA) application. The protections for tenants seeking ERA will remain in place through 2022.
Cowlitz County approved a $9.4 million contract with the Washington State Department of Commerce to administer the Eviction Rent Assistance Program (ERAP) 2.0 through June 2023. Over the last 16 months, the Lower Columbia Community Action Program has distributed about $6.9 million in rent and utility assistance to more than 1,300 households.
Washington, DC will receive $17.7 million in reallocated federal emergency rental assistance (ERA) funds. The money will flow to STAY DC, the District’s ERA program, which has disbursed $352 million in funding to more than 23,000 residents.
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
- Omicron Surge and Homeless System Response – January 7, 2022
Department of the Treasury
- Treasury ERA Program: November ERA Report – January 7, 2022
- Treasury ERA Program: ERA1 Round 1 Reallocation – January 7, 2022
- Treasury ERA Program: ERA1 Voluntary Reallocation – January 7, 2022
- Treasury ERA Program: Improving Access for Those with Limited English Proficiency – January 7, 2022
- Treasury SLFRF Program: Final Rule – January 6, 2022
- Treasury SLFRF Program: Overview of the Final Rule – January 6, 2022