HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) posted “Frequently Asked Questions on the U.S. Treasury’s Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) and Other Rental Assistance Programs” addressing nine questions regarding the potential for public housing and Housing Choice Voucher residents to receive rent and utility assistance from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program (see Memo, 5/10).
Q1 states that public housing authorities (PHAs), Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) landlords, and utility providers may accept funds from the ERA program to cover past-due rent and most utility arrearages for HUD-assisted families. However, before a PHA accepts ERA funds, PIH advises PHAs complete any pending or requested interim income reexaminations. If a family experiences a decrease in income, they can request their PHA conduct an interim income reexamination so their portion of the rent can be adjusted downward. PHAs are encouraged to make the new tenant rent effective the month after the loss of income occurred. If the interim income reexamination already occurred, a PHA should consider making a previously completed interim income reexamination effective for the new tenant rent the month after the change. These recommendations are repeated throughout many of the FAQs.
For utility costs, a family may receive ERA for the utility arrearage that exceeds a PHA’s utility allowance. Families may also be eligible to receive ERA assistance for other housing-related expenses and internet service.
Q4 clarifies that ERA payments are not regarded as income. Q3 indicates that a family may receive ERA funds directly and use it to pay their public housing or HCV rent. Q2 states that PHAs cannot accept ERA funds for prospective rent payments for public housing or HCV residents.
To determine whether a family is participating in a rental assistance program, Q5 notes that Treasury advised in its ERA FAQs that grantees administering ERA funds “may rely on an attestation from the applicant regarding nonduplication with other government assistance in providing assistance to a household.” For example, families may be asked if they receive rental assistance from a PHA for a voucher or if they live in public housing or a property with Section 8 assistance. ERA grantees may ask for a copy of a lease or verification of the amount owed in arrearage. PHAs and participating landlords may provide this information if a family consents.
Residents and advocates might want to focus on Q6 because it is a nice one-page summary repeating key provisions peppered throughout, but with separate provisions tailored to the public housing and HCV programs.
Q7 notes that ERA payments may not only cover rent arrearages but also accrued late fees. While Q8 declares that PHAs cannot forgive rent owed by a public housing household or reduce the amount of rent owed, they may remove any fees assessed for missed rent. Q9 adds that an HCV landlord may agree to reduce the amount of rent owed. It also states that an HCV landlord may terminate a tenancy for nonpayment of rent or other amounts due, as long as they is not acting contrary to an existing eviction moratorium.
The PIH FAQ is at: https://bit.ly/3yrzK70
More information about ERA from NLIHC is at: https://nlihc.org/rental-assistance
More information about public housing is on page 4-30 of NLIHC’s 2021 Advocates’ Guide.
More information about Housing Choice Vouchers is on page 4-1 of NLIHC’s 2021 Advocates’ Guide.