NLIHC Sends Letter to Incoming Biden Administration Calling for Clear Guidance on Emergency Rental Assistance Program

NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel sent a letter on January 8 to President-elect Joe Biden, Treasury Secretary Designate Janet Yellen, and HUD Secretary Designate Marcia Fudge, urging the incoming administration to provide state and local governments with the timely and clear guidance required to distribute critically needed emergency rental assistance to millions of households at risk of losing their homes this winter.

Congress enacted in December emergency COVID-19 relief legislation that established a $25 billion Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program administered by the Treasury Department through the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF). To protect renters from losing their homes – and with them, the ability to keep themselves and their families safe from the pandemic – the Treasury Department must act quickly to issue guidance on the ERA program to help states and localities efficiently and effectively distribute aid to individuals with the greatest needs.

The letter, sent on behalf of NLIHC and its Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DHRC) – more than 850 local, state, and national organizations focused on ensuring the lowest-income and most marginalized survivors have stable, affordable housing while they work to recover after a disaster – outlines recommended guidance for the ERA program. The DHRC developed these recommendations with direct input from local stakeholders about challenges and lessons learned in responding to the pandemic. The recommendations are also based on NLIHC’s analysis of more than 500 state and local rental assistance programs created or expanded during the pandemic.

Insights from these stakeholders and research underscore the critical need for the Treasury Department to release guidance addressing the challenges experienced by localities in administering rental assistance programs funded through CRF and other CARES Act resources. The letter urges the Biden administration to ensure that its guidance avoids overly restrictive requirements, makes clear that self-certification is the preferred method for meeting various criteria, and prohibits or discourages grantees from imposing additional, unnecessary requirements. The letter also calls for guidance that encourages states and localities to prioritize households with the greatest needs, ensure financial assistance reaches households in need, and design their rental assistance programs using evidence-based best practices, among others.

Read the full text of the letter at: