Nevada is now 10th in the country for rental assistance distribution

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Amid nationwide struggles to shift billions in federal rent aid from local and state governments to tenants and landlords, Nevada has picked up the pace and now sits first among states in securing rental income. ‘aid.

Data released Friday by the U.S. Treasury Department shows that as of August 31, Nevada had distributed about $ 79 million, or 42 percent of federal funds received under the undergraduate rental assistance program. emergency. This means the Silver State ranks tenth in the country for rent assistance disbursement.

“We would always prefer those dollars to come out as quickly as possible,” said state treasurer Zach Conine. The Independent of Nevada. “I expect the process, like most processes, to continue to speed up, as we have more time with it and continue to refine it, and that is our goal.”

When Nevada first received rent assistance dollars, the state had to put in place a whole new infrastructure to process and distribute it, Conine said. As the officials solved the problems and streamlined it, the speed at which the money was disbursed accelerated.

Conine attributed the increase in aid disbursed to the state’s ability to implement forbearance options (temporary payment breaks) for mortgage services, set up three central disbursement agencies and implement AB486, a law passed in the 2021 legislative session ensuring that tenants are not evicted while awaiting rental assistance.

The state is still working on the first round of emergency rent assistance, which is due to be used by September 2022. The state has also received permission from the Interim Legislative Finance Committee to begin tapping into the 164 million dollars from the second round of emergency rent assistance for some cases, officials said. This second round of funding, included in the American Rescue Plan Act of March 2021, will expire in 2025, meaning the state has until the end of this year to provide tenants with approximately $ 165 million in aid. to rent.

Tenants facing eviction in Nevada and across the county are finding that the problem is not lack of help, but rather access to it. So far, the United States as a whole has distributed nearly 32% of the first round of emergency rental assistance program funds established as part of a COVID relief bill passed in late December. .

The latest update from the Federal Treasury comes as states face increasing pressure to help tenants after the Supreme Court overturned a national moratorium on evictions for low-income tenants. A letter accompanying the report also warned that the Treasury Department would reallocate funds from poorly performing jurisdictions to better performing ones.

Any program that has allocated at least 65% of its first round of emergency rent assistance dollars by September 30 will be eligible to receive reallocated funds, according to the letter. The District of Columbia disbursed about $ 140 million, or about 78% of its funds, and Virginia distributed $ 352 million, or about 69%, placing them in first and second places in the race for aid to the rent, making them the only two jurisdictions. eligible for reallocated funding. New Jersey and Texas are only 5 percentage points behind the benchmark.

With less than 4% of rent assistance distributed, states like North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming are experiencing the biggest bottleneck in aid distribution and risk losing rental funding. rent assistance.

Much of the slowdown can be attributed to politics, Conine said. Local or state governments may not want to distribute rent assistance because they feel it is a service the free market should provide. Others note that states may have put in place systems with too much bureaucracy that mess up disbursements.

“There are all kinds of reasons why other states are moving more slowly, but we’re happy in this case, at least for Nevada, to be close to the front of the pack,” Conine said. “And we continue to work with other states to try to both improve our processes and help them with theirs.”

Susy Vasquez, president of the Nevada State Apartment Association, applauded the efforts, but said there is still a long way to go.

“Obviously we want it to come out faster, but when we look at the national numbers we are way ahead of the curve,” Vasquez said.

One type of situation Vasquez and other landlords navigate is one where tenants have vacated their units, making them ineligible to receive backdated rent assistance. Not only are landlords unable to recover the rent through federal assistance, but deceased tenants looking to rent another apartment face a significant debt hurdle in securing housing.

“I hope they can accept applications again for people who have balances,” Vasquez said.

Emergency rent assistance funds for state and local governments are channeled through three main entities: the Reno Housing Authority, Clark County, and the Rural Housing Authority.

Clark County did not respond to a request for full details of its disbursement program on Friday, but representatives from the Reno Housing Authority said that as of August 31, the organization had distributed about 53% or 10.4 millions of dollars of its upcoming emergency rent assistance fund. of State, Town of Reno and County of Washoe.

In rural Nevada communities, the Rural Housing Authority distributed $ 5.6 million, or about 32% of its funds at the end of August, and is working to raise awareness of the program in rural communities where access to information may be limited.

Christine Hess, executive director of the Nevada Housing Coalition, said the latest figures on emergency rent assistance disbursements – combined with projections AB486 – show the state’s program is finally getting underway.

“Is a program perfect? ​​Absolutely not,” Hess said. “The fact that there are still people waiting, people in crisis and in need, but… our partners across the state are working hard to put it in the hands of the tenants and the landlord.”


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