The National Low Income Housing Coalition has created a new tool for monitoring trends in state and local implementation of emergency rental assistance programs authorized under the Consolidated Appropriations Act. The funds can be used to pay rent and utility expenses.
The American Public Power Association (APPA) continues to work to keep members educated about guidance related to utility-related programs from the Consolidated Appropriations Act and the American Rescue Plan Act. APPA has regularly communicated with members announcing guidance, including the coalition’s new tool, and is providing updates to COVID relief provisions of interest to public power in the Consolidated Appropriations Act and the American Rescue Plan Act.
In response to COVID-19 and its economic fallout, many cities and states have created or expanded emergency rental assistance programs to support individuals and families impacted by the pandemic, the coalition noted.
The December 2020 COVID-19 relief package included $25 billion in urgently needed emergency rental assistance for tenants with low incomes and established the emergency rental assistance program under the administration of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The American Rescue Plan Act, enacted in March 2021, provides an additional $21.55 billion for emergency rental assistance programs for a grand total of $46.55 billion in emergency rental assistance.
The Treasury emergency rental assistance program includes an unprecedented amount of funding for emergency rental assistance to help renters stay stably housed, the coalition said.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury allocated the initial tranche of funds in late January 2021, as well as published several iterations of guidance from January through May. A dashboard developed by the coalition shares information about programs and key design and implementation features that enable them to serve the lowest-income and most marginalized renters in need of housing assistance.
The latest Treasury guidance strongly encourages flexible program design so that grantees may extend this emergency assistance to vulnerable populations without imposing undue documentation burdens. NLIHC said it will continue to monitor these trends.
The coalition has also provided an updated ERA program table to help renters locate programs in their areas.
As of May 12, 2021, the coalition has identified 344 emergency rental assistance programs, including 47 statewide programs, funded through the $25 billion Treasury emergency rental assistance program.
The group is developing an emergency rental assistance resource hub with additional materials to help programs implement practices for an equitable distribution of assistance to those most in need, it said.