An Update on North Carolina's Emergency Rental Assistance Program
With the passage of House Bill 196 the North Carolina legislature outlined how much of its over $546 million in Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) funds will be allocated to each county. Here's how it breaks down in the Triad; for Guilford County and Forsyth County these funds will be in addition to the ERAP funds that were directly allocated to them (and Greensboro and Winston-Salem) by the US Treasury:
- Alamance County - $11,177,275
- Caswell County - $1,686,049
- Davidson County - $11,879,803
- Davie County - $2,565,624
- Forsyth County - $16,010,132
- Guilford County - $20,578,731
- Randolph County - $10,953,729
- Rockingham - $7,784,158
- Stokes County - $3,328,179
- Surry County - $5,640,906
- Yadkin County - $2,826,767
The legislation also states that local municipalities that did receive funds directly from the US Treasury must exhaust their direct funds before accessing their state allotment.
Guilford County received a direct allocation of $7,252,721 and Greensboro received $8,949,177, so if you add the state's allotment the residents within the confines of Guilford County could have access to a total of $36,780,629 in rent and utility assistance.
Forsyth County received a direct allocation of $4,052,179 and Winston-Salem received $7,478,359, so if you add the state's allotment the residents within Forsyth County's borders could have access to a total of $23,488,491 in rent and utility assistance.
The bill will become law when the Governor either signs it or takes no action before 10 days has passed from the date the bill's ratification (March 4, 2021). Barring a veto, the bill will be law next week.
In addition to allocating the funds, the bill also:
- Makes the North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resiliency (NCORR) the administrator. NCORR is also the administrator of the HOPE Program, which has experienced some well documented challenges in distributing funds in a timely fashion.
- Requires NCORR to pay the exact amount of rent that is owed in each case. In administering the HOPE program NCORR experienced began to have more success distributing funds when they moved to a formula based on average local rents, but this act bars them from taking that approach so there is come concern that the ERA program's funds distirbution will be similarly delayed.
- Limits administrative costs to 5% of funds.
- Requires NCORR to report to the Legislature no later than May 15, 2021 the amount of funds from this act in each county has actually spent on rent and utilities, the amount in each county that has been contractually obligated, and a recommendation for statewide reallotments.
Given the challenges that NCORR has had in administering the HOPE program these requirements could prove to be problematic for the office.