Treasury Department to reallocate unspent rental assistance funds

In response to the economic shocks brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. government rolled out a rental-assistance program on an unprecedented scale. As the economy continues to open up and return to a degree of normalcy, the Treasury Department is taking steps to make sure these funds get to communities that still need them the most.

With the onset of COVID, the U.S. Treasury Department oversaw the distribution of vast sums of funds under the Emergency Rental Assistance program. The Treasury worked with a network of hundreds of state and local governments, as well as some NGOs, to distribute rental-assistance to both tenants and landlords in need of aid.

While overseen by the Treasury, the nuts and bolts of distributing the grants was up to these more local institutions, many of which ran into a number of issues. In the face of often overwhelming numbers of applications from renters, many local organizations have struggled to properly allocated the grants rewarded to them by the federal government.

Because of this, a shockingly low amount of rental-assistance grants has actually made it to tenants and landlords in need. Of the $46.6 billion given to the rental assistance program by Congress since December, the Treasury Department said that only $7.7 billion has been distributed as of the end of August.

The biggest reason for the inefficient distribution has been the slow and often painstaking process of verifying applicants financial information. Other states and municipalities also requested and received significantly more funds than they eventually needed.

In light of this, the Treasury Department has demanded that all grantees that have not distributed 65% or more of their funds by September 30 must submit a detailed plan about how they will spend the remaining. For those groups that have only distributed 30% or less of their funds, the Treasury Department has said that some of their funds may be redistributed to other communities.

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