While many Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) programs funded by the U.S. Department of the Treasury continue to distribute funds slowly, others have received enough applications to allocate all funds from both the first and second rounds of ERA funding. Some programs have closed their application portals while they wait to see whether the U.S. Department of the Treasury will reallocate additional funds to their states or jurisdictions. Other programs have remained operational while they urge Treasury to redistribute funds quickly. Several large ERA programs have indicated they do not have enough funds to meet the need of their low-income renters, including Texas, New York, Oregon, Massachusetts, the District of Columbia, Austin, TX, and Philadelphia, PA.
The first round of ERA funding (ERA1) was included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, allocating $25 billion toward emergency rental assistance. The second round of funding (ERA2) provided an additional $21.55 billion as a part of the American Rescue Plan Act. ERA grantees can receive additional ERA1 funds through the reallocation process if they have obligated 65% of their initial ERA1 allocation and have demonstrated need for additional funds. Treasury will soon begin recapturing funds from grantees that have not expended at least 30% of their funds and will reallocate those funds to grantees who meet the eligibility criteria and submit a request for reallocated funds.
Several programs are pausing or closing their programs while they wait for reallocated funds. The Texas Rent Relief program announced on November 3 that its application portal would close November 5, noting that requests for funds already exceeded their ERA1 and ERA2 allocation of over $2.3 billion. New York’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program has also stopped accepting applications from renters in all but seven counties. A letter from Governor Hochul to Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen indicated that the state’s need exceeds available funding, particularly because the initial ERA1 allocation formula did not take into account the number of renter households within jurisdictions. Both the Texas and New York programs have posted a form that renters can fill out to be notified if more funding becomes available. Other programs that have closed while they wait for reallocated funds include the District of Columbia, the city of Austin, TX, and Richland County, SC. Oregon’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program will pause applications on December 1as they wait for additional funds.
Other programs have kept their application portals open, but they have signaled their need for reallocated funds to meet demand. In early October, Governor Baker stated that Massachusetts will seek additional funds. The city of Philadelphia also plans to apply for additional funds, as the city has already disbursed 87% of its direct ERA2 allocation. While the city has some additional ERA2 funds from the state, officials have said that this funding will only last several more weeks. The city of New Orleans has also disbursed the majority of its ERA1 and ERA2 funds but has already received a reallocation of $23 million from the state of Louisiana.
These examples illustrate the continued widespread need for emergency rental assistance among low-income renters and highlight the need for swift reallocation by the U.S. Department of Treasury to jurisdictions with overwhelming demand. Recommendations for the reallocation process are detailed in NLIHC’s report, Emergency Rental Assistance Spending and Performance Trends.
NLIHC continues to track ERA programs, including whether they are open, permanently closed, or on hold, at: https://nlihc.org/rental-assistance