On August 25, the White House released additional guidance aimed at speeding up and improving distribution of Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) funds to tenants and housing providers in need. These include:
- Allowing self-attestation to document a household’s eligibility for ERAP. This includes showing financial hardship, income, and risk of homelessness/housing instability. It specifically states that the administering entities can rely on that alone to document household income eligibility.
- Housing providers can receive an advance on expected assistance. Treasury will release guidelines to provide a portion of estimated “bulk payments” (payments covering multiple tenants in a single property) in anticipation of receiving the full application and documentation requirements.
- State and local administrators can partner with nonprofits to deliver advance assistance to households at risk of eviction while their application is processed. Expedited payments will be available for tenants who are at risk of eviction will be made available through non-profit organizations, which the federal ERAP funds will then cover once the application is fully processed.
- State and local administrators may make additional payments to housing providers who take on tenants who face major barriers securing a lease, including those who have been evicted or experienced homelessness during COVID. These payments may be paid as a required condition for entering into a lease with a hard-to-house household that would not otherwise qualify.
- Rental arrears from previous addresses may be covered. This will both help make the previous housing provider whole and pay the debt they are owed and also remove barriers for the tenants to find new housing if they have outstanding debt.
- Tenants’ costs associated with obtaining a hearing or appealing an order of eviction may be covered by ERAP funds as an eligible “housing expense.” Rent bonds—frequently required as a condition for a tenant to get an eviction hearing—are an eligible ERA expense.
These changes follow a letter with recommendations for improving the program sent by the housing provider coalition group that NAR participates in to the Administration and Congress. Several of those recommendations have now been adopted, including allowing self-attestation, advances for housing providers, and ensuring that previous addresses are eligible for ERAP funds. NAR will continue to work with the Administration and Congress to improve the distribution of ERAP funds and ensure they are getting to tenants who qualify so their housing providers can be made whole.