AOC, Bowman & 52 Congress Members Call on HUD, Treasury to Reform Emergency Rental Assistance
With millions on the brink of eviction, Trump-era guidance is delaying critical aid to ERA applicants by requiring overly-burdensome documentation.
WASHINGTON - Thursday morning, Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) and Jamaal Bowman (NY-16) led 52 of their House colleagues in sending a letter to the Treasury and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), asking their Secretaries to immediately repeal Trump-era guidance on the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Program. The 'January 19, 2021 FAQ' issued by the Trump administration places burdensome documentation requirements on working-class families - increasing processing times, delaying eligible households access to resources, and preventing states and municipalities from mobilizing desperately needed aid. Representatives Ocasio-Cortez and Bowman request in their letter that these documentation requirements be replaced with the use of self-certification systems to expedite the receipt of funds.
"It is estimated that one in five renters are behind on rent with some experts placing back owed rent as high as $70 billion dollars. This housing crisis is disproportionately impacting renters of color, who face higher unemployment rates and have had more difficulty making rent during this pandemic," reads the letter. "...when deploying emergency rental assistance, some states have required eviction notices, past due utility bills and in some cases, have gone as far as requiring households prove future financial stability in order to receive aid. The existing guidance promulgated by the former administration not only builds on the aforementioned requirements but would make it so that tenants would have to produce an additional burdensome amount of documentation and wait a lengthy period of 21 days in order to receive aid in the event their landlord is uncooperative."
The letter also calls for setting aside the majority of ERA funds for extremely low-income households and for enacting additional renter protections. Specifically, Reps. Ocasio-Cortez and Bowman called for guidance that would prevent landlords from being able to evict tenants without first attempting to obtain rental assistance.
The letters' requests were endorsed by the National Low Income Housing Coalition. The following Members of Congress also co-signed the letter: Alma S. Adams, Ph.D., Joyce Beatty, Sanford D. Bishop, Cori Bush, André Carson, David N. Cicilline, Gerald E. Connolly, Jamaal Bowman, Nanette Diaz Barragan, Donald S. Beyer Jr., Earl Blumenauer, Tony Cárdenas, Judy Chu, Yvette D. Clarke, Jim Cooper, J. Luis Correa, Diana DeGette, Mark DeSaulnier, Dwight Evans, Raul Grijalva, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Henry C. "Hank" Johnson, Jr., Ann Kirkpatrick, Alan Lowenthal, James P. McGovern, Jerrold Nadler, Danny K. Davis, Rosa L. DeLauro, Adriano Espaillat, Jesús G. "Chuy" García, Alcee L. Hastings, Pramila Jayapal, Mondaire Jones, Barbara Lee, Carolyn B. Maloney, Grace Meng, Grace F. Napolitano, Joe Neguse, Marie Newman, Frank Pallone, Jr., Ayanna Pressley, Tim Ryan, Brad Sherman, Ritchie Torres, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Nikema Williams, Ilhan Omar, Donald M. Payne, Jr., Lucille Roybal-Allard, Mary Gay Scanlon, Rashida Tlaib, Nydia M. Velázquez, and Peter Welch.
The letter follows.