Lowest-Income Renters Received 80% of Delivered ERA Funds
The Treasury Department recently released quarterly data on the use of funds in the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) programs in calendar year 2021. The data shows the program's success in reaching households most in need given the challenges of implementing a brand-new program that required coordination among many participants.
One level deeper: In 2021, ERA grantees made 3.8 million payments to eligible households and spent or obligated more than $25 billion, across ERA 1 and ERA 2 programs. In addition, more than 80 percent of the ERA funds that have been delivered went to extremely low-income households at risk of eviction in 2021. The Treasury Department also released demographic data that shows how the funds were delivered to underserved and vulnerable communities.
In the fourth quarter of 2021, more than 40 percent of all primary applicants were Black, more than 20 percent were Latino, and close to two thirds were female-headed households. These rates are in line with the rates at which Black, Latino, and female-headed households had faced eviction earlier in the pandemic, according to research by the Eviction Lab. The data also shows that Treasury's reallocated funding went to grantees serving more diverse and more low-income households than average.
One takeaway: The equity-focused efforts made by the Treasury, states, and localities have had a meaningful impact in ensuring ERA funds reach the lowest-income renters. In 2021, to promote speedy and equitable distribution of ERA funds, the Treasury Department encouraged state and local ERA programs to:
- Reduce burdensome documentation requirements;
- Deliver assistance directly to renters in cases where landlords would not cooperate;
- Invest in culturally and linguistically relevant housing stability services; and
- Adopt promising practices like multi-lingual and mobile-friendly applications.
These efforts have helped, but the Treasury Department has noted that this "work is far from done." It is encouraging "programs to continue to identify partners within their communities that can continue to build lasting infrastructure to support high-need renters’ access to ERA funds, build out housing stability and eviction diversion programs, and ensure program accessibility through actions like improving application design for those with limited English proficiency.”