Many tenants behind on rent are turning to rental assistance programs for help.
NBC 6 Responds found much of the federal aid approved by Congress has not made it to the people who need it most.
The U.S. Treasury reported just 12 percent of the first round of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program totaling $25 billion was distributed.
State and local governments who administer the program have struggled to get the funds out.
At the State level, just 2 percent of the federal funds have been paid out.
According to a spokesperson with the Florida Department of Children and Families, they received $871 million as part of the ERA program to administer statewide. At the beginning of August the OUR Florida program had paid out $22.5 million to 5,255 households.
The federal government required that ERA programs have a two-party application process. The DCF spokesperson pointed to this as a cause for some delays “because the landlord must verify the information provided by the tenant.”
“Florida has implemented additional flexibilities to speed up the application process and time as barriers were identified, such as allowing tenants to submit an expired driver license to show identification and accepting attestations to prove hardship due to COVID 19," the spokesperson told NBC 6 Responds. "To help remedy incomplete applications, OUR Florida has made more than 80,000 outbound calls to help Floridians complete and upload required documents.”
In South Florida, the counties have faired better.
Both counties received around $60 million in ERAP funding.
In Miami-Dade County, $35 million has been awarded totaling 57 percent of the funds. In Broward County, $12.8 million has been paid out.
We asked a Broward County representative why they have paid out far less than Miami-Dade County. They pointed to Miami-Dade County’s portal opening more than a month before Broward County’s portal as one reason.
They also said to assist the third party vendor who helps process the applications in the county has allocated 25 Broward County staff to expedite the review of these applications and the processing of payments.
These additional staff will be focusing its efforts on the tenants who submitted applications in April, May and June who have the greatest rental arrears and are most likely to have their landlord file for eviction due to nonpayment of rent.
This backlog will be addressed before the next eviction moratorium expires on October 3rd.”
“We know that bureaucracy exists and that it takes time to access applications for dollars to get into people’s hands and to make sure they have access to these dollars,” Santra Denis said.
Denis is the Executive Director of the Miami Workers Center. She says local governments should do more outreach to help tenants complete their applications and gather needed documentation.
“We are calling for our elected officials to be again our last resort to really hold the line especially with the trends of the Delta variant, and to hold the line so people can access the resources they are making available in terms of the ERAP programs.”