Over $1B in Rental Aid Shifted to Places Moving Faster to Spend It

Ricardo Martinez, watches the window for action as they are among families facing eviction from the 50 unit Tokio Hotel apartments in Los Angeles, in October 2021.

Ricardo Martinez, watches the window for action as they are among families facing eviction from the 50 unit Tokio Hotel apartments in Los Angeles, in October 2021. GETTYIMAGES.COM/ Al Seib

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

Most of the federal relief funding is being redistributed voluntarily within states, but some is getting clawed back from places that didn't hit targets for putting it to use.

The Treasury Department says it is shifting about $1.1 billion in federal rental assistance funding to places that have been moving more quickly to distribute the money that's available through the pandemic-era program.

Of that total, the department said Friday that around $875 million involved voluntary transfers between funding recipients in the same states. The remainder of the money, about $239 million, was "recaptured" under a process that Treasury outlined last year for clawing back the assistance dollars from places that are not hitting certain benchmarks for putting the money to use.

Congress approved about $46.5 billion in emergency rental aid as part of the federal response to Covid-19. That money was meant to help stave off evictions and to funnel money to landlords to make up for rent payments tenants missed during the pandemic.

Last year, there was a wave of criticism that state and local governments weren't moving fast enough to get the money out. There were a variety of reasons for these delays.

Treasury estimated last week that jurisdictions receiving the money had, by the end of 2021, spent or obligated $25 billion to $30 billion from two tranches of funding. "Obligated" in this case means that while the money hasn't necessarily been spent yet, organizations overseeing it have taken specific steps towards using it.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition said that about $15.9 billion of the aid had been disbursed to households through November, with up to $27 billion either spent or obligated.

The group's president and CEO, Diane Yentel, said in a statement that efforts by the Biden administration, program administrators, advocates and others have "significantly improved" emergency rental assistance programs and sped up distribution of the funds.

Treasury did not release details on places that had funding recaptured. But it did issue information on where reallocated dollars would go. 

Among the larger recipients were California ($50.3 million), New Jersey ($42.7 million), New York ($27.2 million) and Washington, D.C. ($17.8 million). Local governments that received bigger shares of the redistributed funding included Boise, Idaho, Philadelphia and San Diego, as well as Harris County, Texas, which all received reallocated amounts in the $7 million to $8.6 million range.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition analysis showed that states that had spent under 10% of their funds through the end of November included Georgia, South Carolina, Nebraska, Wyoming, North Dakota, Arizona and South Dakota. Although South Carolina and South Dakota hadn't reported full data through the end of that month.

Treasury's list of places receiving funding reallocated voluntarily is here. Recipients of recaptured funding are listed here. And the National Low Income Housing Coalition's latest breakdown of emergency rental assistance spending is here.

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