On Wednesday, the City of Fresno trumpeted the news that it had received $15.8 million from the Federal government as part of the Treasury Department’s Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program, which will be distributed over the next few weeks.
The program will distribute money to tenants who are late on their rends because of the economic fallout from the pandemic.
“The Emergency Assistance Rental Program could not have come at a better time,” said Mayor Jerry Dyer in a statement. “These funds will help thousands of Fresno residents avoid being evicted and facing the possibility of becoming homeless. It will also give landlords the opportunity to be made whole. I will be working closely with our City Council to get these funds into the hands of those in need as quickly as possible.”
However, it seems the city’s announcement was slightly premature.
Even though the Federal government deposited the funds into the city’s coffers, it turns out the city was not quite ready to receive applications.
After having dozens of Fresno residents inquire about applying for the funds, the city released the following statement Thursday:
“We are currently reviewing the regulations and parameters set forth by the Federal government. These requirements include specific conditions applicants must meet to receive these grants.
“We will be working together with the City Council to establish a process to distribute these funds. Our commitment to the community is to get these much-needed grants out as soon as we can – to help our residents stay in their homes.”
The ERA is funded from the December COVID-19 stimulus bill and provides $25 billion in total to assist households that have been affected by the pandemic.
Program recipients must use at least 90% of their grant on rent, rental arrears, utilities and home energy costs, utilities and home energy costs arrears and other housing expenses. Any leftover money can be used for housing stability services and administrative costs. Funds are set to expire on Dec. 31.
Households eligible for the assistance must have at least one person who meets the following criteria:
- Qualifies for unemployment or has experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs or experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19.
- Demonstrates a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability.
- Has a household income at or below 80% of the area median.