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USDA offers options in country’s housing crisis


This news story was published on August 26, 2021.
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WASHINGTON — As the nation continues to grapple with an affordable housing crisis worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, USDA is committed to supporting our tenants and owners. In addition to previous actions taken by the Biden Administration, USDA will now offer:

Additional support to property owners waiting to receive the U.S. Treasury’s Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) funds by allowing them access to reserves for operating shortfalls.
Financial incentives to property management agents that tap ERA to clear arrearages.
Increased support from USDA field staff to amplify ERA to local leaders and public housing authorities in rural communities.

USDA will contact owners with additional information on these actions. While USDA will continue to provide direct support to its over-burden tenants, since the Spring of 2021, we have also worked to promote the Treasury Department’s ERA program in rural America by contacting over 250,000 email subscribers, mailing 65,000 letters to un-assisted USDA tenants, providing hard copy materials in USDA state offices, and sharing information with key stakeholder groups at the national, regional and state levels.

The delivery of ERA is ramping up as a result of these efforts and the hard work of public servants in state and local governments across the nation. State and local programs have distributed more than $5 billion in assistance out of the $25 billion allocated under the first round of ERA (ERA1). About 1 million payments have been made since January. In July alone, more than 340,000 households received $1.7 billion in rental and utilities assistance, up 15% from June, and more than double the number of households served in May. The latest data also demonstrates that ERA funds reached the lowest income tenants, with more than 60% of households served falling between 0 and 30% of area median income. But some state and local governments must do better. Money is available in every state to help renters who are behind on rent and at risk of eviction, as well as landlords.

Our country and economy are in a stronger position now than they were in January 2021, yet households across the country, especially those that are not vaccinated, remain vulnerable to COVID-19 and its associated impacts, including housing insecurity. Helping our fellow Americans, including our Veterans, keep their homes will go a long way in making sure that they have one less thing to worry about as they rebuild their lives coming out of this crisis and try to keep their loved ones safe.

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