February 22, 2021

Administration Releases New Guidance for Emergency Rental Assistance Program

From the National Low Income Housing Association:

The U.S. Department of the Treasury released on February 22nd, 2021 a new FAQ to help states and communities quickly distribute more than $25 billion in emergency rental assistance to renters in need.

The revised FAQ  directly addresses the significant flaws in the guidance issued by the previous administration and includes many of the recommendations made by NLIHC and the NLIHC-led Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DHRC). The DHRC developed these recommendations with direct input from local stakeholders about challenges and lessons learned in responding to the pandemic. The recommendations are also based on NLIHC’s analysis and tracking of more than 600 state and local rental assistance programs created or expanded during the pandemic.

Under the updated FAQ:

  • Renters may self-attest to meeting most eligibility criteria, including income, housing stability, and the amount of back rent owed, provided that certain safeguards are met. This will help reduce the burden on program administrators and renters when applying for assistance.
  • The timeframe is shortened from 21 days to as little as 10 days before assistance can be provided directly to tenants in cases when landlords refuse to participate in the program.
  • Assistance can cover home internet costs needed for distance learning, telework, and telehealth, helping to keep families connected to school, work, and healthcare.
  • Some of the funds may be used to provide legal assistance to renters facing eviction under certain conditions.
  • Programs can provide up to 10% of funds for stability services, correcting an error made in the Trump-era guidance previously issued.

NLIHC anticipates that the Department of Treasury will issue further guidance, and we will continue to advocate for improvements to ensure the funding reaches the lowest-income and most marginalized renters.

For more information, join NLIHC’s weekly national call on March 1 with a guest speaker from the Treasury Department.

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