Powering Strong Communities

Treasury Department solicits applications from cities, counties for renter assistance grants

The U.S. Department of Treasury is soliciting applications due next Tuesday from cities and counties with more than 200,000 population for direct grants from a $25 billion renter assistance program established as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020.

While smaller cities and counties can still benefit from the program, it appears they will have to rely on a subgrant from their state.

Under the program, not less than 90 percent of awarded funds must be used for direct financial assistance, including rent, rental arrears, utilities and home energy costs, utilities and home energy costs arrears, and other expenses related to housing. 

Remaining funds are available for housing stability services, including case management and other services intended to keep households stably housed, and administrative costs.  Funds generally expire on Dec. 31, 2021. 

The Treasury Department will make allocations of the $25 billion Emergency Rental Assistance fund to states, U.S. territories, local governments with more than 200,000 residents, and Indian tribes (defined to include Alaska native corporations) or the tribally designated housing entity of an Indian tribe, as applicable. 

Completed payment information and a signed acceptance of award terms form generally must be submitted not later than 11:59 p.m. ET on January 12, 2021, to ensure payments are made within the 30-day period specified by the statute. Eligible grantees that do not provide complete information by that deadline may not receive an Emergency Rental Assistance payment. 

The American Public Power Association does not believe public power utilities will be eligible to be direct recipients of such funds. But larger cities and counties which operate public power utilities are. Likewise, public power utilities may be operating in, but not operated by, grant-eligible counties.

Because this is primarily a rent-assistance program, APPA shares concerns with the National Energy Assistance Directors Association (NEADA) that customers may not have ready ability to use this program for energy needs.

For utilities serving cities or counties that are not eligible to receive a direct grant, APPA is encouraging those utilities to reach out to local LIHEAP and housing agencies, which may receive direct grants from the utilities’ state and/or to their state LIHEAP and housing agencies.