The U.S. Treasury Department has released its first iteration of FAQs for the new $25 billion emergency rental assistance (ERA) program established in the year-end COVID-19 relief and omnibus spending package. Counties with populations above 200,000 residents were eligible to receive direct payments from Treasury if they applied for program funding by the January 12, 2021 deadline. The FAQ answers questions relevant to counties as they work to establish their own rental assistance programs and will be supplemented by additional guidance and updated on a rolling basis.
Among other items, the FAQ:
- Defines which utilities are covered under the program, including electricity, gas, water and sewer, trash removal and energy costs, such as fuel oil.
- Clarifies the ERA program can cover rental payments beginning after March 13, 2020, the date of the national emergency declaration.
- Mandates that ERA assistance be provide only to eligible households, which are defined as households that are obligated to pay rent on a resident dwelling – meaning mortgage assistance is ineligible under the program.
- Includes information regarding record keeping for eligible recipients.
Notably, Treasury has not yet made a determination on “other expenses” as related to housing incurred due, directly or indirectly, to COVID-19.
The FAQ provides additional information and we encourage you to view the full document, available here. NACo has developed a resource page on the emergency rental assistance program and also recently hosted a two-part webinar series on the program. Part I is available here and Part II is available here.