While it appears the United States economy is finally beginning the long road to recovery, the personal financial impact on millions around the country continues to grow. After millions of Americans lost work during nationwide lockdowns, rental debt and eviction worries have begun to skyrocket, leaving a growing number of people with deep housing insecurity. Affordable housing has long been an issue in America and the effects of the pandemic have propelled the crisis into uncharted waters. Fortunately, the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Program was created to provide funding for households that have had difficulties paying their rent and utilities. As a PHA, you want to roll out a successful ERA program. But, how do you go about making that happen?
The ERA has two programs, ERA1, with a provision of up to $25 billion in funds, and ERA2, providing up to $21.55 billion. The first was enacted in December of 2020, as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, while the second was enacted in March of 2021, as part of the American Rescue Plan Act. In both programs, funds are given to states, Indian tribes, local governments, and U.S. territories, who are then responsible for using the funds as assistance to eligible households in their rental and utility needs.
In order for eligible people to obtain funding from the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, they need to apply through their state or local governing entity. As the Public Housing Authority in your area, and if qualified, you will work directly with ERA funds, helping people in your community obtain the money they need.
The US Treasury has created a streamlined process for the completion and submission of applications. Using an electronic portal, potentially eligible individuals can review the requirements for eligibility and apply for the ERA2.
Rolling Out a Successful ERA Program
You’ll want to ensure a seamless and successful ERA program rollout in your PHA. The best way to do that is with top software that gives you the tools you need for success. While you may already use PHA software, you might want to make a change for the ERA program. Using the right software will help you create an effective ERA rollout in your community.
Here’s what you want to consider when choosing your new PHA software:
Length of time in the PHA industry
Choose a software provider who has been around for a decent length of time, assisting with PHA processes, organization, and more. Opting for new software is risky; lacking experience, not having time to work out the kinks, and few people to provide feedback on it. With PHA software, it’s not the time to experiment with the newest. Pick a tried and true software that’s been around for a decent length of time.
Proven track record
Along with longevity, you will want to find software that has a proven track record of success. Check references and testimonials to find out if certain software is known to provide the right results. If reviews aren’t overwhelmingly positive, or the software hasn’t been around long enough to gain them, you’ll want to look elsewhere.
Used for traditional housing
When finding a PHA software that works cohesively with the ERA Program, you also want to make sure that it can be used for traditional housing as well. While the ERA rollout is a current consideration, eventually you’ll need that software to circle back to more traditional housing needs. Don’t get caught making the change to a one-function software.
Finding a PHA Software Vendor
When you talk with vendors, you’ll need to ask questions in order to gain clarity on the most essential issues. One of the most important questions to ask vendors is if they are big enough to take on the rollout of the ERA Program.
Traditional PHA software will have a number of features such as customer care, data conversion, financial and management consulting, as well as other professional services that help Public Housing Authorities streamline their processes and serve their communities. With the addition of the ERA Program, PHA software will include these features as well as additional features applicable to the program. You will want to make sure that any vendor you talk with can confidently say they’re ready to take it on.
As you partner with a vendor to use a PHA software for the ERA Program, there are a few things you’ll need to look out for:
- Is the platform ready to go?
- Does it have effective reporting?
- Will it be able to be deployed quickly?
Finding the right PHA software and implementing it quickly should be a top priority. As you work to get help to those hurting in your community, you need great software that will meet your needs and provide effective assistance to your rollout of the ERA Program.
It’s time to build back your community, help your residents, and breathe life back into your area’s housing. A great PHA software can help you do just that.