Lawmakers seek unused ERA funds reallocation

A group of lawmakers recently forwarded correspondence to the Department of the Treasury, requesting unused Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERA) funds be reallocated to states in highest need.

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House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters (D-CA) and U.S. Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA) joined 36 members of California’s Congressional delegation in penning the letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen regarding the matter.

“As the U.S. Department of the Treasury reallocates unused Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program funds, we write to encourage the Department to deploy resources in an equitable and expeditious manner to grantees with the highest proportion of the program’s target population,” the legislators wrote. “Californians continue to struggle with immense economic challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Without urgent action from the Treasury to provide additional ERA funding to California, some of the nation’s highest-need and most vulnerable renters will be at risk of losing their homes.”

In the letter, the lawmakers cited the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which stated that California has the highest rate of unemployment in the country at 6.5 percent, as well as U.S. Census Bureau data showed nearly 1.5 million California renters have fallen behind on paying rent compared to any other state.

The lawmakers are requesting the Treasury Department to release new guidelines for distribution of reallocated ERA2 funds as quickly as possible; prioritize reallocating funding to communities with the greatest need via the application of a similar prioritization strategy used in the high need grantee allocation method established in ERA2; and use statutory authority to reallocate unspent ERA2 funds as quickly as possible, which can begin as early as March 31, 2022.