Programs Begin Using Second Round of Emergency Rental Assistance Funds

NLIHC has been closely tracking Treasury Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) programs funded through the $25 billion appropriated for ERA under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (ERA1) and the $21.55 billion appropriated by the American Rescue Plan Act (ERA2). As of October 14, 2021, NLIHC identified 501 Treasury ERA programs set up by state and local grantees, 56 of which are now administering ERA2 funds. Some programs have begun to use ERA2 funds concurrently with ERA1 funds to reach a larger number of households who may qualify for ERA2 but not ERA1, or to extend the duration of assistance offered to 18 months. Some programs, like the one in New Orleans, began implementing ERA2 funds after exhausting the first tranche of funding. Additionally, six programs were set up by grantees that did not previously administer ERA1 funds but elected to run their own programs for ERA2.

As more programs begin using ERA2 funds, NLIHC is monitoring important programmatic changes allowable under ERA2, including providing assistance for up to 18 months, opening up eligibility to households that faced financial hardship during the pandemic, and requiring (rather than allowing) programs to offer direct-to-tenant assistance when landlords refuse to participate in the program.

Between April and October 1, many ERA program administrators have made several key changes to their programs, including explicitly adopting self-attestation and direct-to-tenant payments in response to continued advocacy and improved guidance issued by the Department of Treasury. In late April, only 27% of ERA programs explicitly allowed for self-attestation for some eligibility criteria instead of asking for source documentation; by October 1, nearly 59% of programs explicitly allowed for self-attestation. Similarly, the share of programs explicitly allowing payments to be made directly to tenants increased from 15% in April to 29% by October. With ERA2, programs are required to provide assistance directly to tenants if landlords refuse to participate. More programs must implement these critical measures to ensure they help the most marginalized tenants.

Programs can also use ERA funds to cover other housing-related expenses, such as relocation assistance and hotel and motel stays to assist those who are at risk of or have already experienced eviction or displacement. ERA funds can even be used to assist tenants living in precarious housing situations move to a new housing situation, through a combination of forward rent, security deposits, and housing stability services. As of October 1, only half of all ERA programs explicitly offer coverage for other housing expenses, of which only 40% cover relocation expenses. As the pandemic endures, some renter-households may be forced to move due to rent hikes or lease non-renewals. With a total of $46.55 billion available for ERA, programs need to adopt all the flexibilities provided by the guidance mitigate all forms of housing instability.

To learn more about ERA programs, NLIHC’s searchable database and rental assistance resources are available here, with new programs added to the database frequently. NLIHC also regularly updates an ERA Dashboard and ERA Resource Hub to monitor program implementation and facilitate resource sharing across programs.