New Treasury Policies Make It Easier To Get Rental Assistance For Tenants and Landlords
With the end of the pandemic-era Emergency Rental Assistance programs, the Treasury just announced seven additional policies to provide even more permission for states to rely on applicants’ self-attestations without further documentation.
Although the ERA programs have reached millions of families, the Treasury states that too many states have yet to demonstrate sufficient progress in getting assistance to struggling tenants and landlords. After September they stress that programs that are unwilling or unable to deliver assistance quickly will be at risk of having their rental assistance funding reallocated to programs that are effective in other high-need areas. In other words, states have about a week to get their ERA programs in shape or risk losing the funding altogether.
In recent months, the programs have come under scrutiny for being laborious, administratively heavy and not beneficial to many landlords. Landlords have shied away from receiving money in many cases as it would curtail their ability to kick out unruly tenants and tenants have been intimidated by the amount of paperwork and administrative inconvenience it takes to file and get the funds.
The new efforts by the Treasury are to include:
- Self-attestation can be used in documenting each aspect of a person’s household eligibility for ERA with respect to financial hardship, risk of homelessness or instability and income. Before, more proof of these situations was necessary, but the Treasury, seeing this as a barrier, will loosen restrictions. Applicants are urged to use self-attestation when other forms of documentation are not immediately available.
- During the public health emergency, programs may rely on self-attestation alone to document household income eligibility when documentation is not available. This means landlords and states can simply take someone’s word for their need of assistance.
- State and local governments can give assistance to landlords and utility companies based on estimated arrears. The Treasury is allowing partial payment of an estimated amount to be given out immediately in order to provide quick assistance, with the full amount to be given after documentation has been provided.
- State and Local governments will be allowed to enter into partnerships with nonprofits to deliver advance assistance to households at risk of eviction while their applications are still being processed.
- States may make additional rent payments to landlords that take on tenants facing major barriers to securing a lease, including those who have been evicted or experienced homelessness in the past year.
- Past arrears at previous addresses may be able to be covered under new policies. To remove barriers a household may face in securing new housing, the Treasury’s guidance makes clear that state and local grantees may, at a tenant’s request, provide assistance to cover remaining rental or utility arrears at a previous address.
- A tenant’s costs associated with obtaining a hearing or appealing an order of eviction may be covered with these funds as an eligible “other expense.” Rent bonds are now an eligible ERA expense.
One of the biggest challenges states face with getting money to those who need it most is application processing delays. These new measures are intended to drastically improve the red tape preventing funds from getting to renters and landlords, with the overall goal of the policies siphoning off funds sooner than documentation or applications will be 100% verified.
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