Treasury’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program, passed as part of the American Rescue Plan, continues to expand reach to tenants in need while building long-term eviction prevention infrastructure
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury today released Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) data through September 30, 2022, which demonstrates continued assistance to renters across the country and investments in long-term eviction prevention and housing infrastructure. As of September 30, ERA programs made over 9.7 million payments to households at risk of eviction.
“The Emergency Rental Assistance Program, in combination with other Administration initiatives, has averted what many predicted would be a wave of evictions during the pandemic,” said Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Adewale Adeyemo. “Today’s data illustrates how ERA funds have both kept millions of families in their homes and enabled communities to stand up infrastructure for rental assistance that never existed before.”
Treasury’s ERA program has provided communities with significant resources to support housing stability throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and studies have shown that the majority of ERA funds have gone to low-income and/or traditionally underserved renters of color. The demographic information included in today’s data release also shows that over 80 percent ERA recipients are very low-income families and that funds have reached a diverse range of households. Examples of grantees that have demonstrated particular success in deploying resources to prevent evictions and invest in long-term housing infrastructure include:
- Pierce County, Washington had not invested in infrastructure for rental assistance before ERA. To stand up their program, the county executed a comprehensive outreach strategy that included over 200 outreach events at local libraries and partnered with the post office to send a postcard to residents printed in 45 languages with ERA and legal assistance information. The county also engaged with marginalized populations through targeted events and partnerships with local community-based organizations. To expand access, Piece County made its ERA application available in 15 languages online, over 200 languages over the phone, and multiple languages in person. As of January 2023, the state of Washington has now funded a permanent rental assistance program, including eviction prevention and housing stability services.
- In Connecticut, ERA has greatly improved eviction prevention services across the state. For example, the Right to Counsel program, launched in January 2022 using ERA funding, provides free legal representation to income-eligible tenants in certain zip codes facing eviction or the loss of a housing subsidy. Additional federal and state funding has allowed the state to prioritize households most at risk of eviction and homelessness. For instance, tenants are provided access to mediation services in partnership with Quinnipiac University’s Center for Dispute Resolution as an alternative to court.
- Chicago, Illinois was highlighted by the White House for its innovations in preventing eviction. Since October 2021, Chicago’s Department of Housing (DOH) has coordinated with Cook County and the Cook County Courts to allow tenants who are facing eviction to apply for ERA on site at the courts, which has helped resolve over 1,600 eviction cases. Last summer, DOH began offering free legal services to tenants in eviction court through the Right to Counsel Pilot Program, a three-year partnership funded through ERA with the Law Center for Better Housing and Beyond Legal Aid. These have been critical parts of the City of Chicago’s work with Cook County, the State of Illinois, and other legal and advocacy partners to increase tenant housing stability in the long term.
ERA has been praised by experts like Princeton University’s Eviction Lab founder Matthew Desmond, who said that the program and the federal eviction moratorium represent “the deepest investment in low-income renters the federal government has made since the nation launched its public housing system” and “the most important eviction prevention policy in American history.” Researchers have also found that ERA beneficiaries have not only received financial benefits from the program, but have also seen other positive effects on their well-being, such as improved mental health outcomes.
Further, while ERA addresses immediate financial distress resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, it also serves as a catalyst to pilot solutions for existing gaps in the housing ecosystem and support long-term housing stability for renters. ERA grantees across the country have successfully used housing stability services to support outreach to various communities, to fund eviction prevention and diversion efforts, and to support relocation and rehousing efforts.
In order to accelerate the provision of support and maximize available resources for renters, Treasury has implemented a reallocation approach to ensure that unused funds go to areas with demonstrated need and robust programs. In January, Treasury announced that 89 state and local grantees were awarded $690 million in reallocated ERA funds to assist renters facing financial hardship. To date, Treasury has reallocated over $4.3 billion of funds that may have otherwise gone unused, deploying funds to areas with demonstrated need and creating an incentive for communities to expeditiously connect households and families with this federal aid.
Reallocation is one of several initiatives that Treasury has undertaken to help funds quickly reach eligible renters in need. In addition to reallocation, Treasury has shared best practices with recipients across the country, hosted roundtables to engage with community and advocacy groups, worked with the White House to promote lasting eviction prevention initiatives using ERA funds, and eased burdensome documentation requirements to more easily reach eligible renters in need—among other initiatives to promote program success.