Logjams are Keeping Much of $47 Billion in Federal Aid from Renters

Posted By: Jon Lowder Blog,

The Wall Street Journal has a story about the difficulty that many states and municipalities are having in getting their Emergency Rental Assistance Plan (ERAP) dollars distributed. North Carolina only recently rolled out its program - Greensboro, Guilford County, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County have had their program up and running for months - and the challenges described in the article sound similar to what we've heard from Raleigh. From the article:

Local governments across the U.S. have struggled with how to distribute the money, and some have complained that their staffs are being deluged by a flood of aid requests. Numerous renters are being disqualified for failing to correctly complete their applications, local officials say...

Some local programs report being overwhelmed with applications that they must manually vet and approve. New York state, for example, didn’t open applications for its $2.7 billion program until June 1.

Other local programs are reluctant to loosen too many requirements and run the risk of fraud...

Disputes with building owners can cause delays. Landlords initially balked at Jefferson Parish’s requirement they not evict any tenants for future missed rent payments for at least 90 days after receiving aid. The parish and the landlords negotiated that requirement down to 45 days, Ms. Lee Sheng said.

Tenants also fail to complete applications. Louisiana, which administers a $161 million aid fund benefiting 57 of the state’s parishes, said this month that just over 3,000 of the 16,500 renters who began the application process have completed it.

A survey of 220 assistance programs last year by the National Low Income Housing Coalition found that incomplete applications were the most common barrier to distributing aid.