The Treasury Department has awarded a small fraction of the tens of billions of dollars Congress appropriated since January for rental assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The federal government has spent less than $3 billion of $46.6 billion given to the Emergency Rental Assistance program, the Treasury Department announced 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 agency.
“While more households are getting help, in many states and localities, funds are still not flowing fast enough to renters and landlords,” the Treasury 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 Emergency Rental Assistance program provides low-income families with financial aid for rent payments. The COVID-19 relief bill enacted in December included $25 billion for the program, while the American Rescue Plan included $21.6 billion for it.
The Treasury Department said that it hasn’t distributed payments using a “first come, first serve” strategy. Rather, it has attempted to single out families who have an active eviction case.
Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee, has sounded the alarm on the apparent mismanagement of coronavirus relief funds. The top Republican lawmaker on the panel 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 written 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,” the North Carolina Republican said.
McHenry touted the Renter Protection Act, introduced by committee Republicans last month, saying it would consolidate Emergency Rental Assistance efforts to help the government quickly disburse aid to low-income renters.
McHenry wrote a letter to the Government Accountability Office, requesting an oversight investigation into why the Treasury Department has been so slow in disbursing the funds.
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