New Treasury Data Shows That the Rollout of Emergency Rent Relief Continues to Be a Hot Mess
States and localities continue to struggle with getting billions in federal rent relief funds out the door, frustrating both tenants and property owners while fueling demands for continued eviction moratoriums.
On Friday, the U.S. Treasury Department released new data showing that as of May 31, recipient jurisdictions have spent only about $1.3 billion, or 6 percent, of the $25 billion in Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) funds approved by Congress in December 2020 to help renters cover rent, rent debt, and utilities.
That federal money was given in the form of grants to states and territories and to local governments with populations over 200,000.
That number obscures a lot of variation between states. Virginia has spent about 30 percent of its ERA award, compared to California’s 2 percent. The pace of spending is also increasing. States and localities spent $774 million in May, compared to the $443 million spent in April, and the $272 million spent from January to March. About 345,000 families have received ERA-funded assistance.
That’s far short of the 1.3 million households who self-report that they’re “very likely” to be evicted in the next two months in Census surveys, reports Politico.
A second, $21 billion round of ERA funding was included in the relief bill Congress passed in March 2021. The new data released from the Treasury Department doesn’t cover that money. Some $8.6 billion of it has been released to grantees as of early May.
The dispersal of funds has faced a number of problems. For starters, most state and local governments have had to set up their own rent relief programs from scratch.
“Prior to this year, few governments had robust programs for delivering this type of rental assistance, and none were operating at the scale now made possible by ERA resources,” notes the Treasury in a report accompanying its data release, saying that jurisdictions with pre-existing rent relief programs have been able to
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