On May 21, the U.S. Treasury Department announced that it had distributed $6.1 billion of the $21.6 billion provided in the American Rescue Plan Act (APRA) for the federal Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program to state and local government grantees, including counties with 200,000 residents or more, to assist families struggling to make rental and utility payments. Counties with populations below 200,000 may receive funding through their state. This announcement comes just two weeks after Treasury released allocations for the second round of the ERA program, known as ERA2, and an updated set of FAQs guiding implementation of the program at the state and local level. Counties welcome the distribution of these ERA2 funds, which will help them keep their residents stably housed through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
The federal ERA program was established in the Continuing Appropriations Act of 2021, which provided $25 billion for the first round of the program, known as ERA1. Using ERA1 dollars, counties across the country set up their own emergency rental assistance programs to help keep their residents in their homes during the current public health emergency. While there are some programmatic differences between ERA1 and 2, this recently distributed funding will help counties to expand their ERA programs and to provide continued assistance to those residents most in need.
The COVID-19 pandemic has compounded the pre-existing housing affordability and insecurity crisis. According to the Treasury Department, nearly 7 million Americans reported being behind on rent during the second half of April, and more than 40 percent of those 7 million are concerned they may be evicted sometime within the next two months. Further, nearly 12 million Americans currently lack confidence that they will make next month’s rent. The impact eviction can have on a family or individual ranges far beyond housing to health, employment, education and more. County-level ERA programs work to combat these consequences by preventing eviction in the first place.
NACo recently met with White House and U.S. Treasury officials on implementation progress for federal ERA program. NACo will continue to monitor guidance on the federal ERA program and advocate for county priorities as Treasury continues to distribute the remaining ARPA ERA funds. If your county has established an ERA program and you would like to have it featured on the NACo website, please email ERAP@naco.org.
NACo has also established an ERA Resource Hub, available here.