Tuesday, January 19, 2021
UNDERSTANDING THE FEDERAL EMERGENCY RENTAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM - PROCESS
(AS PROVIDED BY TREASURY.GOV)
The Emergency Rental Assistance program makes available $25 billion to assist households that are unable to pay rent and utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds are provided directly to States, U.S. Territories, local governments, and Indian tribes. Grantees use the funds to provide assistance to eligible households through existing or newly created rental assistance programs.

Moments ago, the Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA) issued a notice to THA and other housing partners, stating the following:

Tennessee will be allocated roughly $458 million from the federal government for COVID-19 Rent Relief. Governor Lee has tasked THDA with administering these funds for the majority of the state. THDA is working now to develop a web portal for applicants, establish a call center for application assistance, and prepare an adequate number of staff to review and process thousands of payments to landlords and utility providers.
 
Further, the US Treasury is expected to release additional funding guidance later in January that will impact our program administration. While this is a big challenge, THDA is working to open the COVID-19 Rent Relief program as soon as is practical. Based on the experience of other states and what we are hearing from the vendors we expect to work with, we anticipate it will take at least eight weeks for THDA to be ready to disburse funds. 
 
Of note, several eligible communities have chosen to run their own program. Residents in those areas will not be eligible to apply for COVID-19 Rent Relief through THDA, but will be able to apply through their community programs.
 
Those communities that will run COVID-19 Rent Relief/emergency rental assistance programs include:
·        Knox County
·        Nashville
·        Memphis
·        Shelby County
 
We will keep you updated on our progress and provide you with information as it becomes available. In the meantime, you can direct constituents to our website where they can sign up to be notified when the THDA application portal opens. COVID-19 Rent Relief information.
FEDERAL DIRECTIVES FOR RENTERS/LANDLORDS
(If you reside in a qualifying area, within a qualifying state.)
Application Process
An application for rental assistance may be submitted by either an eligible household or by a landlord on behalf of that eligible household. Households and landlords must apply through programs established by grantees. In general, funds will be paid directly to landlords and utility service providers. If a landlord does not wish to participate, funds may be paid directly to the eligible household. Households and landlords should not submit applications for assistance to Treasury.
Available Assistance
Eligible households may receive up to 12 months of assistance, plus an additional 3 months if the grantee determines the extra months are needed to ensure housing stability and grantee funds are available. The payment of existing housing-related arrears that could result in eviction of an eligible household is prioritized. Assistance must be provided to reduce an eligible household’s rental arrears before the household may receive assistance for future rent payments. Once a household’s rental arrears are reduced, grantees may only commit to providing future assistance for up to three months at a time. Households may reapply for additional assistance at the end of the three-month period if needed and the overall time limit for assistance is not exceeded.
Eligibility
An “eligible household” is defined as a renter household in which at least one or more individuals meets the following criteria:
  1. Qualifies for unemployment or has experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19;
  2. Demonstrates a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability; and
  3. Has a household income at or below 80 percent of the area median.

Rental assistance provided to an eligible household should not be duplicative of any other federally funded rental assistance provided to such household.

Eligible households that include an individual who has been unemployed for the 90 days prior to application for assistance and households with income at or below 50 percent of the area median are to be prioritized for assistance. 

Household income is determined as either the household’s total income for calendar year 2020 or the household’s monthly income at the time of application. For household incomes determined using the latter method, income eligibility must be re-determined every 3 months.
TRANSPARENCY
The Department of the Treasury will issue public reports quarterly on the use of funds. The Treasury Office of Inspector General will conduct oversight of the program and may recoup funds from any government that fails to comply with the restrictions on the use of funds.
 
Mailing: Tennessee Housing Association * P.O. Box 569 * Mount Juliet, TN 37121