Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Money Could Be Reallocated If Agencies Miss Benchmark

65% of ERA Funds must be allocated or U.S. Treasury Department could move funds elsewhere

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Melissa Sursa applied for Emergency Rental Assistance through the state when she lost her job for a couple of months.

"I think it's great that people are getting help and stuff,” Sursa said. “I think it benefits the landlord and tenants and keeps them both where they need to be."

But the process didn't move fast enough to keep her from being evicted.

Melissa Sursa, left, holding her granddaughter.

"Then the landlord just wasn't going to wait,” Sursa said. “It was getting approved but she didn't want to wait for the money, so she filed for an eviction."

Now she, her daughter and granddaughter are in a hotel and don't know what's next.

"I really honestly don't know,” Sursa said. “I mean we have jobs and we're working but like it's the hotel cost is going to eat our money to where we won't be able to save and get a place."

Hotel room Sursa is sharing with her daughter and granddaughter after being evicted.

The U.S. Department of Treasury has warned states and counties that Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) money could be reallocated if they haven't spent at least 65% of the money on those in need.

The Secretary of the Treasury Adewale O. Adeyemo said in an Oct. 4, 2021 letter, “Treasury's approach to reallocation addresses each of these types of grantees by redirecting resources to top-performing grantees serving high-needs areas, providing grantees an opportunity to present a program improvement plan in order to keep their existing funds, and recapturing dollars from the lowest performers that have been unable or unwilling to speed up assistance.”

According to a Treasury Department Interim Report for January to August, Collin County, Dallas County, Denton County, and Tarrant county all come in under the 65% threshold.

A Denton County spokesperson told NBC 5 News in a statement, “as of end of day on October 13, 2021, we have used 53.5% or $12,299,535 of the $23 million we received at Denton County. Since March, Denton County has assisted 1,629 households with rent, 808 households with utilities and 667 households with hotel stays to keep them from being homeless until other housing is available.”

Tarrant County released a statement saying, “Tarrant County has not met the 65% obligation threshold and is therefore required to submit a Program Improvement Plan to Treasury by November 15, 2021 in order to avoid fund recapture. The County’s rental assistance funding will not go away as a result of this process; there are ample funds available to continue to assist current and future applicants to the county’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).” 

With money still available Sursa sends this advice out to others facing evictions.

"Be prepared like don't let yourself get so behind that you end up like me," Sursa said.

If you are in need of help here are some resources:

Fort Worth Emergency Rental Assistance

Tarrant County Emergency Rental Assistance

Dallas County Emergency Housing Assistance

City of Dallas Rent Relief Assistance

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