Calhoun Times

Rental assistance programs marks 1st anniversar­y

- From Georgia Department of Community Affairs

Monday marked the first anniversar­y of the enactment of the Consolidat­ed Appropriat­ions Act of 2021, which provided up to $25 billion under the Emergency Rental Assistance Program.

While such milestones often pass with little notice, this legislatio­n provided unpreceden­ted funding for one of the nation’s largest rental assistance programs, even exceeding recent appropriat­ions for the Housing Choice Voucher program (Section 8).

The President signed the bill into law one year ago, directing the U.S. Department of the Treasury to establish guidelines and allocate funds to states, U.S. territorie­s, local government­s, and Indian tribes.

The Treasury set guidelines for the funds to aid eligible tenants and landlords through existing or newly created rental assistance programs.

Treasury allocated funds before issuing the first set of guidelines, and hundreds of jurisdicti­ons embarked on the path to standing up infrastruc­ture and managing this new program.

Housing instabilit­y has been exacerbate­d during COVID and that is the purpose of this emergency assistance.

Though there is a general appreciati­on that housing affordabil­ity was a growing issue pre-pandemic, this one-time funding is neither intended nor designed to resolve all affordable housing needs.

In Georgia, Treasury establishe­d 13 distinct programs. Twelve programs provide rental assistance to residents in areas with population­s that exceed 200,000 and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) initially handled the remainder of the state.

DCA sought to coordinate efforts among the statewide programs to ensure consistenc­y in program design, as well as a mutual understand­ing about the approach and working with Treasury.

“This coordinati­on has been invaluable as the program evolved,” said DCA Commission­er Christophe­r Nunn.

DCA launched the Georgia Rental Assistance program (GRA) on March 8, 2021, only 10 weeks after the legislatio­n was enacted. Like other programs that simultaneo­usly launched, this effort involved waiting for Treasury to issue policy guidelines that are ever evolving, designing program policies, hiring and training hundreds of employees, selecting and implementi­ng a technology portal, engaging community partners, and rolling out targeted marketing.

“Since March, GRA has provided nearly $67 million to more than 15,000 Georgia families,” said Nunn. “This does not include the more than $100 million distribute­d by Georgia’s 12 local programs to families in their jurisdicti­ons.”

The Georgia Rental Assistance program continues to evolve with each new set of Treasury guidelines, as well as shared best practices based on learned experience in Georgia and other states,

Apply online at georgiaren­talassista­ or for assistance, contact us at rentalassi­ or 833-827-7368.

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