Idaho Housing and Finance expects Emergency Rental Assistance funds to run out by next month

ERA funds are intended to help people pay rent after experiencing difficulties caused by COVID; the state legislature could approve more dollars for the program.

IDAHO, USA — Idaho Housing and Finance Association (IHFA) is pausing their Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) application program Thursday at noon in response to dwindling available funds, according to IHFA Marketing and Communications Director Jason Lantz.

The program has distributed $81.5 million to more than 24,000 Idaho families since May 2020.

The federal government most recently allocated $53.5 million to the State of Idaho for the national ERA program, according to the state budget. State lawmakers approved $38 million for IHFA distribution.

“We do this work on behalf of the government,” Lantz said.

By not approving the entire lump sum, lawmakers left behind a balance of $15.5 million.

The Idaho legislature must approve the use of these left-over ERA funds before IHFA can distribute them to qualifying program applicants. Additional approved funding a necessity for the program to continue past January 2023; Lantz expects the current funds to run out.

“If [lawmakers] choose to use that $15.5 million for additional rental assistance, that is up to them. If they don’t then it goes back to them [U.S. Department of Treasury],” Lantz said.

Govt. Brad Little (R-Idaho) supports approving the left-over funds for IHFA to distribute across the ERA program, his office wrote to KTVB in an email.

“The request will require legislative approval, and rollout timing will depend on [the legislature’s] action,” Gov. Little’s Press Secretary Madison Hardy wrote.

Expenditures for the ERA program doubled since July, according to Lantz. He largely attributes this growth to the federal government changing the criteria needed to become an eligible applicant.

The most recent ERA funding pool – deemed ERA-2 by the US Department of Treasury – now qualifies applicants who were indirectly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

IHFA is in contact with state lawmakers and the Governor’s office regarding the funds they need to keep the statewide program alive.

Boise City and Ada County Housing Authority (BCACHA) manages the ERA program specifically in Ada County. Their funding is allocated directly from the city and county government, according to BCACHA Executive Director Deanna Watson.

BCACHA expects their current ERA funding to last until June 2023; however, application numbers have jumped from 60 per day to 125 per day, Watson said. At this rate, she expects Ada County ERA funds to run out by March.

BCACHA has distributed $50 million in ERA funds over the past two years specifically to people in Ada County.

“Well, there is clearly a need in Idaho,” Lantz said. “That hasn’t changed.”

The Idaho State Legislature begins the 2023 legislative session in early January.

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