Twenty-two months after much of the country shut down at the start of the COVID-19 crisis, renters remain disproportionately affected by the economic fallout. Even before the pandemic, many renters were cost burdened, struggling with high rents and stagnant wages—especially Black, Latinx, and Indigenous renters, who have been hardest hit by the health and economic impacts of COVID-19.

With the end of the federal eviction moratorium and expiring state and local eviction protections, millions of renters are at risk of losing their homes as the pandemic continues. As of December 2, only 18 percent of renter households lived in jurisdictions with some form of eviction moratorium.

And a new report from the Eviction Lab at Princeton University finds that although they remain below prepandemic levels, evictions have been on the rise since the federal moratorium’s end, particularly in states and cities with little to no legal protections.

The crisis underscores the urgent need to get Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) to those at risk. The US Department of the Treasury is the federal administrator for two ERA programs: ERA1 provides up to $25 billion under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, and ERA2 provides up to $21.55 billion under the American Rescue Plan Act. But some states and localities have been slow to administer assistance.

Strategic partnerships with community-based organizations (CBOs) have been critically important to the success of ERA programs, helping jurisdictions expand capacity through community outreach and application intake and processing.

In North Carolina, local nonprofits and CBOs are helping jurisdictions reach more residents and process more applications. The City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County partnered with DreamKey Partners, a local CBO committed “to helping families see what is possible with an affordable home,” to provide emergency relief to those affected by COVID-19. As of August 31, 2021, Charlotte had distributed 98 percent ($23.6 million) of its ERA funding, and Mecklenburg County had distributed 100 percent ($6.7 million).

In Ohio, which has distributed 14.3 percent ($1.06 billion) of combined ERA1 and ERA2 funding, the ERA program is administered through a network of 47 nonprofits providing a range of other social services. In Clark County; Las Vegas; North Las Vegas; and Henderson, Nevada, the CARES Housing Assistant Program works through a network of local nonprofit organizations.

In both states, nonprofits and CBOs use a common online data system for application intake, processing, and tracking. Working collaboratively and sharing responsibilities can also help alleviate capacity issues and burnout.

Read the full article about emergency rental assistance by Monique King-Viehland and Mikaela Tajo at Urban Institute.