Following the end of New York’s eviction moratorium, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand joined 7 of her colleagues in urging the Biden administration to reallocate funding from the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Program to assist low-income renters. The letter requests that unspent ERA funds be distributed as quickly as possible to communities facing the greatest need, including those where a large portion of renters pay over 50% of their income in rent or have lost their jobs since the beginning of the pandemic.
“New York’s housing costs are some of the highest in the nation. After the end of the state’s eviction moratorium, too many New Yorkers are at risk of falling behind on their rent and losing their homes,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Particularly as we continue to battle the Omicron variant, housing insecurity poses a serious threat to the health and well-being of our communities. I urge the Biden administration to immediately redirect unspent rental assistance funds to where they are needed most.”
The letter was also signed by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senators Alex Padilla (D-CA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Cory Booker (D-NJ).
The full text of the letter is available here or below:
Dear Secretary Yellen,
As Senators representing over a quarter of the U.S. population, we appreciate how the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Program has been a crucial lifeline for millions of our constituents during the COVID-19 pandemic. We write to ask that unused emergency funding that is eligible for reallocation be deployed in an accelerated manner to keep families stabilized as we continue to address the current COVID-19 surge.
Amid the current surge of COVID-19, our states continue to deploy these resources as quickly as possible. However, it is clear that a significant amount of ERA2 funds remains unused across the country, while some grantees, including our states and communities, face demand for rental assistance that exceeds available resources. Based on information provided to us from our states, it is our understanding that they have obligated all funding available.
As you develop guidance for the upcoming reallocation, we echo the requests made in the attached letter sent by the governors of our states on January 13, 2022, urging the Department to:
(1) Release new guidelines for the distribution of reallocated ERA2 funds as expeditiously as possible;
(2) Use its statutory authority to quickly recapture and reallocate unspent ERA2 funds beginning March 31, 2022;
(3) Prioritize reallocating funding to communities with the greatest need over simply keeping funding within states by applying a similar prioritization strategy as that demonstrated in the high needs allocation methodology established in ERA2, which factors in a grantee’s share of very low-income renter households paying more than 50 percent of income on rent, overcrowding, rental market costs, and change in employment since the beginning of the pandemic; an
(4) Modify grantee pay-out metrics in the reallocation to better capture grantee demand.
Thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to continuing to work with you to ensure our most vulnerable communities receive these critical resources.