by Thomas Catenacci
The Department of the Treasury has awarded a small fraction of the tens of billions of dollars Congress appropriated for pandemic rental assistance since January.
The federal government has expended less than $3 billion of the $46.6 billion in funds given to the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program, the Treasury Department announced on Wednesday. The U.S. doled out $1.49 billion from January through May and $1.5 billion in June to low-income renters nationwide, according to a spreadsheet published by the Treasury.
“While more households are getting help, in many states and localities, funds are still not flowing fast enough to renters and landlords,” the department said. “Treasury is continuing an all-out effort, in coordination with the White House and interagency partners, to get the word out about the availability of rental assistance and to support grantees in ramping up their efforts.”
The federal ERA program provides low-income families with financial assistance for rent payments. The coronavirus relief bill enacted in December included $25 billion for ERA while the American Rescue Plan included $21.6 billion for the program.
The department added that it hasn’t distributed ERA payments using a “first come, first serve” strategy. Rather, it has attempted to single out families with an active eviction case.
House Financial Services Committee Ranking Member Patrick McHenry has sounded the alarm on the apparent mismanagement of coronavirus relief funds. The top Republican lawmaker noted that Americans in need haven’t been given access to the funds.
“This report confirms my concerns: the Biden Administration is failing to provide Emergency Rental Assistance to Americans in need,” McHenry told the Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement Wednesday. “With millions of families worried they’ll lose their homes in 10 days, we need to act now to correct this gross mismanagement.”
“But instead of working with us, Democrats are more focused on their progressive agenda — leaving renters twisting in the wind,” he continued.
McHenry touted the Renter Protection Act, which was introduced by committee Republicans last month. The legislation would consolidate ERA programs to help the government quickly disburse aid to low income renters.
The ranking member also wrote a letter to the Government Accountability Office, requesting an oversight investigation into why the Treasury Department has been so slow in disbursing ERA funds.
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