NLIHC Sends Letter to Treasury Department, Calls for Data Transparency on Emergency Rental Assistance

On behalf of NLIHC, the NLIHC End Rental Arrears to Stop Evictions (ERASE) cohort, and the NLIHC-led Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition, NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel sent a letter on December 8 to U.S. Department of the Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen urging the department to release demographic and other key applicant data for each grantee distributing emergency rental assistance (ERA). The letter also calls on Treasury encourage local data-sharing between ERA program administrators and advocates.

Advocates in communities across the country are struggling to obtain program data, particularly information that would allow a greater analysis of the demographics of those being served by ERA programs, relationships between ERA and eviction patterns, neighborhood racial characteristics, and program elements. Timely access to this information is critical to identifying necessary mid-course corrections, ensuring greater racial equity, preventing evictions, and improving program delivery.

The letter urges Treasury to commit to releasing all quarterly ERA program data disaggregated by grantee, including all data elements broken down by demographics. All data metrics reported quarterly should be released at the grantee-level for more granular program-level analysis. While the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 requires Treasury to collect and report quarterly data on the distribution of ERA, the agency has only released partial quarterly data. Not releasing complete quarterly reports hampers advocates’ efforts to identify needed improvements, ensure proper oversight, evaluate potential racial disparities in the distribution of funds, and address barriers as they arise.

The letter also calls on Treasury to release participant-level data for statistical research purposes, as required by the statute. These data can be used to evaluate whether program elements, such as self-attestation or direct-to-tenant assistance, correlate with overall ERA distribution and funds distributed to high-need communities. Researchers, advocates, and policymakers can use this analysis to understand gaps in program design and identify best practices.

Without timely access to public data released by Treasury, state and local advocacy groups must look to data from ERA program administrators—data which is often inaccessible. The letter recommends Treasury encourage grantees to form data-sharing agreements with local advocacy groups to ensure advocates have the information needed to hold ERA programs accountable and improve the distribution of aid.

Read the letter at: