New Treasury Data Shows Over 80% of Emergency Rental Assistance Delivered to Lowest-Income Households

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The U.S. Department of the Treasury said that the majority of its Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program funds were delivered to the lowest-income households, according to a Feb. 24 press release.

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The Treasury said that more than 80% of ERA assistance was delivered to very low-income households — which it qualifies as those earning 50% of area median income and below — in 2021.

In addition, in the fourth quarter of 2021, more than 40% of all primary applicants receiving assistance self-identified as Black and more than 20% self-identified as Latino. Female-headed households made up close to two-thirds of ERA beneficiaries, according to the Treasury, citing research by the Eviction Lab.

“When we began implementing the Emergency Rental Assistance program, one of the goals was to use the resources to prevent an eviction crisis from hitting our country’s most vulnerable families,” Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo said in the release. “A year later, Treasury is pleased to report that the vast majority of rental assistance has gone to keeping the lowest-income families in their homes during the pandemic. This wasn’t by accident, and we continue to use every lever to ensure these funds are distributed equitably and encourage state and local grantees to increase ease of access.”

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In 2021, there were 3.8 million payments made to eligible households, according to the release.

The ERA was funded through two separate programs that have been established. ERA1, which provides up to $25 billion under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, was enacted on Dec. 27, 2020. Meanwhile, ERA2 provides up to $21.55 billion under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which was enacted on March 11, 2021, according to the Treasury’s website.

The funds are provided directly to states, U.S. territories, local governments, and (in the case of ERA1) American Indian tribes. Grantees use the funds to provide assistance to eligible households through existing or newly created rental assistance programs.

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“The fact that we’re seeing in the data really significant access by very low-income people, by people of color, is a reflection of the fact that Treasury created a clear set of guidelines upfront and then encouraged grantees to adopt promising practices,” Noel Poyo, Treasury’s deputy assistant secretary for community economic development, told The Washington Post. “There’s a lot of people who still have need, and that’s why we’ve still got our nose to the grindstone, but this is a significant indicator of progress,” he added.

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.
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