As the September 30 deadline quickly approaches for when the U.S. Treasury Department must begin to recapture and reallocate funds from grantees unwilling or unable to spend down from the original Emergency Rental Assistance Program (known as ERA1), the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) is helping unlock ERA funds for its residents. However, several other PHAs continue to encounter obstacles with the program.
NYCHA and the Office of Temporary and Disability Insurance have entered into a Data Sharing Agreement that allows NYCHA to collect tenant consent for data sharing, the tenant to attest to being financially impacted by COVID, and NYCHA to file an ERA application on their behalf. Last week, NYCHA launched an effort to collect electronic consents and has already gathered 1,400 resident consents. NYCHA also is beginning an in-person canvassing effort to knock on doors and obtain consent. Once all consents have been obtained, NYCHA will then apply for each “consented” tenant’s arrears using bulk submissions on a weekly or biweekly basis. CLPHA recommended to HUD and Treasury that bulk signature submissions be used to help speed ERA fund distribution.
However, PHAs, including NYCHA, remain concerned about the hurdles they still face in distributing ERA funds. A main concern for NYCHA is whether there is adequate New York State ERAP funding, or, if not, that there be a reallocation of funds if the State pays out its allotment before reaching NYCHA residents.
Last month during the CLPHA Tenant-Based Committee call, CLPHA members reported their ERAP concerns around inflexibility for ERA program owner identification requirements, inability to certify a family’s eligibility without prior resident consent and the arduous application process which requires families to start the application only for it to disappear or time out.
CLPHA is focused on the September 30 deadline and will continue to work with HUD and Treasury to advocate for the maximum amount of flexibility for PHAs when administering ERAP funds.