States, cities running out of rental assistance monies

Nov 29, 2021, 1:23 AM | Updated: 9:09 pm
FILE - Gene Sperling, who leads the oversight for distributing funds from President Joe Biden's $1....

FILE - Gene Sperling, who leads the oversight for distributing funds from President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package, speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, on Aug. 2, 2021. The Treasury Department says several states and cities have exhausted their federal rental assistance in a sign that spending on a program aimed at averting evictions has picked up speed. The federal government is forecasting that upwards of $30 billion allocated for rental assistance will be disbursed by the end of the year. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Several large states and cities have exhausted their federal rental assistance, the Treasury Department said Monday, in a sign that spending on a massive program aimed at averting evictions has picked up speed.

The federal government is forecasting that upwards of $30 billion or about two-thirds of money allocated for rental assistance will be disbursed or allocated by the end of the year. That is a dramatic change from this summer when housing advocates were complaining about the slow pace of distribution.

But with the improved outcome of the $46.5 billion program has come concerns that some tenants will not get help. The first tranche of emergency rental assistance funds, known as ERA1, is for $25 billion and the second, known as ERA2 and meant to be spent over a longer period of time, is $21.5 billion.

Texas has stopped accepting new applicants because it has allocated all its funds, while Oregon has stopped taking new applicants for now, the Treasury Department said. The state of New York has spent or committed nearly all of its money, as has Philadelphia. California has indicated it will soon exhaust its funds, while Atlanta has closed its program to new applicants.

More than 100 other state and local entities have indicated they have gone through almost all their ERA1 money and are beginning to spend down their ERA2 funds, Treasury said.

“There is a lot of work still to do to get funds out in a timely way to prevent avoidable evictions, but we are in a new phase.” Gene Sperling, who is charged with overseeing implementation of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package, said in an email interview.

“We now have the three largest states and many cities saying they have run through or will soon run through all of their ERA funds,” he continued. “Treasury is using the reallocation process to spur weak performers to up their game and to get more funds into the hands of those who can help the most vulnerable the fastest.”

Texas officials said its program had disbursed $1.5 billion and another $109 million was in the process of being paid. Over 263,000 households have gotten the funds, and another 21,000 have payments that are on the way.

“We have not received word of any additional funds being sent to us for distribution but we have asked Treasury for funds that may be redistributed from those that were not disbursed through other state, county or city programs,” Kristina Tirloni, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, said in an email.

The Oregon Housing and Community Services announced earlier this month that nearly all the $289 million in federal emergency rental assistance has been committed.

During a recent Senate Interim Committee On Housing and Development, Margaret Salazar, the director of Oregon Housing and Community Services, said that the “harsh reality” is that Oregon “just did not get enough resources to meet the needs” of the state to respond to the immediate crisis.

Although officials say that all the rental assistance has been requested, a significant chunk of the funds — $159 million — has yet to actually reach renters. The state has received nearly 51,000 complete applications for rental assistance but so far, just 43% of those who have applied have received funding.

New York has spent or committed $2 billion out of $2.4 billion after spending almost only $200 million through August.

But it also faces a challenge of getting money into the hands of tenants, with nearly $1 billion still held up over missing paper work. One big problem is that the state is having trouble matching applications submitted by tenants with the landlords who own the property.

Congress has authorized $46.5 billion in emergency rental assistance in a bid to thwart what was expected to be a wave of pandemic-related evictions.

The initial rollout of the federal program was plagued by slow disbursement, with administration officials publicly blaming state and municipal partners for bottlenecking the process with excessive bureaucracy often aimed at preventing fraud.

The more recent problem has been some parts of the country expending all their money while others, especially in parts of the South, are lagging behind.

“While the overall rate of spending emergency rental assistance has improved, many programs are still too slow in getting assistance to tenants in need,” Diane Yentel, CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, said in a statement. “Most slow spenders and poor performers are needlessly delayed by their refusal to use flexibilities and best practices to expedite assistance.”

Treasury announced in October that it would soon start reallocating unspent money.

Those entities that have not obligated 65% of their ERA1 money or are found to have an expenditure ratio below 30% as of Sept. 30 based on a Treasury formula will face having the money reallocated. Grantees can avoid losing the money if they submit a plan by Nov. 15 showing how they will improve distribution or are able to get their distribution numbers above the 65% or 30% threshold.

There will also be the option of entities voluntary returning the money, with the goal that it could be redistributed to the same state, territory or tribal area. Treasury officials have not identified any places that could lose money.

___

Associated Press writers Jamie Stengle in Dallas and Sara Cline in Portland, Oregon, contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Cruise ship changes course after US judge orders seizure

MIAMI (AP) — A cruise ship that was supposed to dock in Miami sailed to the Bahamas instead after a U.S. judge granted an order to seize the vessel as part of a lawsuit over unpaid fuel. Cruise trackers show Crystal Symphony currently docked in the Bahamian island of Bimini. Passengers told news outlets that […]
1 day ago
Supporters of Liberty and Refoundation Party gather in support of Honduras' President-elect Xiomara...
Associated Press

Honduran Congress splits, threatens new president’s plans

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) — Honduran President-elect Xiomara Castro faced a growing crisis on Sunday as dueling sessions of the newly elected Congress elected different sets of leaders, threatening Castro’s ability to carry out promised reforms. The president is to be inaugurated on Thursday and U.S. officials have hoped she could help battle poverty and insecurity […]
1 day ago
FILE - Visitors are seen at Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park, Wyo. on May 1, 202...
Associated Press

Yellowstone visits hit record high in 2021, straining staff

MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, Wyo. (AP) — A record number of visitors flocked to Yellowstone National Park last year despite fewer hotel rooms and campsites being available because of the coronavirus pandemic and construction projects. About 4.86 million visits were tallied in 2021, breaking the prior record set in 2016. It’s a million more people than […]
1 day ago
FILE - Bob Spalding, left, and Don Wilson of The Ventures perform at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame...
Associated Press

Don Wilson, guitarist with The Ventures, dies at 88

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — Don Wilson, co-founder and rhythm guitarist of the instrumental guitar band The Ventures, has died. He was 88. Wilson died Saturday in Tacoma of natural causes, surrounded by his four children, The News Tribune reported. The band’s hits included “Walk, Don’t Run,” and the theme song for “Hawaii Five-O.” They were […]
1 day ago
FILE - Attendees dressed as Spider-Man gather during New York Comic Con at the Jacob K. Javits Conv...
Associated Press

‘Spider-Man’ comes back swinging, takes No. 1 from ‘Scream’

After spending one weekend in second place, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” proved it still had some fight left. Sony’s superhero juggernaut swung back to first place in its sixth weekend in theaters and became the sixth highest grossing film of all time, globally. The film topped the North American charts with $14.1 million, according to […]
1 day ago
Members of National Action Network pray during a news conference near the scene of shooting in Harl...
Associated Press

In mourning yet again, NYC prepares to honor fallen officer

NEW YORK (AP) — A city reeling from a recent spate of violence prepared to lay to rest a rookie police officer being hailed as an inspiration to his immigrant community, as investigators sought to make sense of a domestic dispute that left another officer “fighting for his life.” Funeral services for New York City […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
...

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]
...

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
States, cities running out of rental assistance monies