The U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) released an updated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document on July 6 that provides further guidance regarding its two Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA1 and ERA2) programs. The updated FAQ offers additional information regarding the remediation of payments made by multiple grantees intended to cover the same expenses, addresses the documentation and eligibility requirements for housing stability services, and discusses the applicability of source-of-income discrimination laws, among other changes.
The new Treasury FAQ includes guidance about:
- Payments made by multiple grantees: Treasury added Q45 to address what should happen if two grantees learn that they both provided rental or utility assistance to a household intended to cover the same months’ expenses. Treasury states that in such cases, a grantee does not have to recover its payment and can instead recharacterize it as assistance covering a different period of eligible rent and utility expenses. However, the grantee must document which expenses the funds ultimately covered and confirm that the household was eligible for all assistance it received, including ensuring that the total number of months of financial assistance received by the household does not exceed statutory limits.
- Documentation and eligibility requirements for housing stability services: Treasury revised Q23 to clarify that the ERA2 statute does not restrict housing stability services to “eligible households.” Q1 was revised to state that since the ERA2 statute does not limit the provision of housing stability services to “eligible households,” grantees are not required to document a household’s eligibility if the grantee provides no assistance other than housing stability services with ERA2 funds. For ERA1, grantees are encouraged to rely on self-attestation for documenting eligibility for households receiving housing stability services without any financial assistance. For both ERA1 and ERA2, a grantee must collect any demographic or other information needed to fulfill the grantee’s reporting obligations.
- Imposing additional eligibility criteria: Treasury added Q44 to state that grantees do not have the authority to augment the ERA eligibility requirements by conditioning assistance on a tenant’s employment status, compliance with work requirements, or acceptance of employment counseling, job training, or other employment services. While the statutes authorizing the ERA programs and Treasury’s guidance provide grantees discretion in structuring their programs, grantees cannot impose other additional eligibility criteria or require tenants to be employed, accept employment services, or comply with work requirements.
- Source-of-income protection laws: Treasury added Q43 to address whether landlords offered ERA are subject to source-of-income protection laws. Treasury states that depending on the jurisdiction’s laws, a landlord’s refusal to accept ERA payments may violate state or local source-of-income protection laws.
- Program accessibility for protected classes: Treasury revised Q15 to state that grantees must comply with Section 504 of the “Rehabilitation Act of 1973,” which prohibits discrimination because of disability in programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance. Treasury revised Q37 to state that in accordance with Title VI of the “Civil Rights Act of 1964,” ERA grantees must ensure that they provide meaningful access to their limited-English-proficiency (LEP) applicants and beneficiaries of their federally assisted programs, services, and activities. Treasury provides resources regarding reasonable steps grantees can take to provide meaningful access for LEP applicants.
- Documentation requirements for bulk utility payments: Treasury revised Q38 to state that, in the case of bulk utility payments, grantees may allow a utility provider up to nine months from the time the bulk payment was made to satisfy all documentation requirements if a utility shut-off moratorium was in effect in the grantee’s jurisdiction for at least one of the six months following the payment.
Read Treasury’s revised FAQ at: https://bit.ly/3bXtLAh