Rep. McHenry calls on Treasury to conduct greater oversight of rental assistance programs

U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) is urging greater oversight by the U.S. Treasury of the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) programs.

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McHenry, the ranking member on the House Financial Services Committee, cited what he called the Treasury Department’s lack of oversight of the ERA programs in a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Deputy Inspector General of the Treasury Department Richard Delmar. He urged the Treasury and the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to apply the oversight process established in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 to all ERA funds.

“I write to you concerning the Department of Treasury’s continued mismanagement of two COVID-19 emergency rental assistance (ERA) programs. Congress’s effort to provide relief for renters affected by COVID-19 has been undermined by Treasury’s inability to establish clear, consistent, or conclusive rules regarding the operation of the original Emergency Rental Assistance program (ERA1) established in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 in December 2020 and the second Emergency Rental Assistance program established in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 in March 2021. As a result, absent additional action by Treasury, there is an increased likelihood that limited ERA dollars will be wasted instead of used for their intended purpose of eliminating the back rent of COVID-impacted low-income renters,” McHenry wrote.

McHenry is particularly concerned with the Treasury’s inability to establish basic anti-fraud and auditability controls governing the use of funds by eligible grantees.

“Given the documented lack of processes within the ERA programs to allow for timely identification of potential fraud and efforts to mitigate those risks, it is incumbent upon Treasury to take several steps to ensure payment integrity and increase auditing of grantee compliance,” McHenry added in his letter.