New tool connects tenants and landlords to Emergency Rental Assistance programs in their area
Deputy Treasury Secretary Adeyemo visits Virginia – second-highest distributor of Emergency Rental Assistance nationwide
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of the Treasury joined the White House, multiple agencies, non-profits, and major companies in raising awareness about the historic emergency rental assistance available to Americans in need. Renters and landlords looking for assistance can now use the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s new “Rental Assistance Finder” tool (consumerfinance.gov/renthelp) to find information on rental assistance in their area. Treasury is sharing the new look up tool with state and local governments and Tribes and encouraging them to help spread the word.
This morning, Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo will highlight the new tool on his visit to the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) in Arlington, Virginia – a state that has been a nationwide leader in distributing rental assistance through the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program. Virginia has distributed $223 million in ERA funds, making it the second-highest distributor of any state. The APAH is a key outreach partner for the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, which administers the state’s ERA program. Deputy Secretary Adeyemo will meet with APAH staff and hear about the state’s best practices in administering rental assistance to tenants and landlords.
Like Houston and Harris County, Texas, which the Deputy Secretary visited last week, Virginia hit the ground running by adopting promising practices and making adjustments based on tenant and landlord feedback. Following Treasury’s May 7 guidance urging states to use fact-specific proxies for household income, like average incomes in a neighborhood, Virginia cut down application processing times by streamlining what is often the most time-consuming part of eligibility verification. It also implemented efforts to address incomplete applications with outreach phone calls. Combined with translation services, this targeted and direct phone outreach helps to push many applicants in high-need areas to complete their application. Program administrators have noted that many applicants had not realized that their applications were incomplete, and these outbound efforts have a direct correlation with improvements in application completion.
The ERA program (ERA1) under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, runs through September 2022, and Treasury sent the $25 billion allocated under ERA1 to states and localities by February 2021. An additional $21.5 billion of ERA assistance under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 is available until September 2025. While there is still much further to go, we are beginning to see progress with more states and localities getting assistance out more quickly. Nationwide, the number of households served in June grew by about 85% compared to May and nearly tripled compared to April. In June, states and localities delivered $1.5 billion in assistance – more than all previous months combined. The investments states and localities are making in creating rental assistance infrastructure are paying off across the country. For example, Illinois went from distributing $0 in May to $95 million in June, making it the second-largest state spender in June nationwide.
When it comes to states and localities lagging in their distribution of ERA funds, Treasury continues to use every lever at its disposal in coordination with the White House and other agencies as part of a whole-of-government effort to speed up assistance by:
- Publishing guidance and FAQs encouraging direct assistance to tenants, streamlined documentation requirements, and cultural competency in programs, and enabling funds to be used to assist individuals experiencing homelessness.
- Highlighting successful grantee programs through roundtables and promising practices
- Reaching out to state and local grantees that have yet to distribute rental assistance in their communities to offer additional support.
Treasury has sent compliance letters to all states and localities that have not yet distributed any ERA assistance, offering additional support. This is in addition to reiterating to all grantees that Treasury will use every tool available to get aid to struggling renters, including by using its statutory authority to reallocate funds that have not been obligated beginning in the fall.
Rental assistance is available across the country, and billions of dollars have already reached hundreds of thousands of households who have faced hardships during the pandemic and need support making their rent, paying their utilities, and keeping their families in their homes. Treasury continues to be committed to working with the White House and other agencies and state and local governments to ensure the historic funding available under the ERA reaches those who need it.