The Alabama Housing Finance Authority’s federally funded Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Alabama program has committed more than $173 million to 39,000 of the state’s lower-income households to date.
Due to its success, the program will begin to wind down in Alabama, as is happening in many other states, and must stop accepting applications at 8 a.m. on Dec. 15, 2022.
“Based on present commitments and pending applications, the funding provided by the U.S. Treasury will be exhausted early next year,” said AHFA Multifamily Administrator David Young. “Emergencies are temporary by nature, and we have alleviated the most urgent pandemic-related needs for rental and utility assistance and eviction prevention for thousands of Alabama households statewide.”
ERA Alabama was designed to provide short-term relief to eligible renters experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the program opened in March 2021, more than 39,000 households representing all 61 Alabama counties in its jurisdiction have received $173.5 million in paid or pledged assistance for rent and utilities, largely in the state’s rural counties. Eight highly populated areas – Baldwin County, Jefferson County, Madison County, Mobile County, Montgomery County, Tuscaloosa County, the City of Birmingham, and the City of Huntsville – received separate funding allocations from the U.S. Treasury to administer their own programs.
“ERA Alabama has provided a ‘quick fix’ to bandage pandemic-related economic wounds,” said Young. “We have stopped the short-term bleeding, so now it’s time to focus on a long-term cure.”
To this end, AHFA plans to devote a portion of its remaining federal allocation to establish a Revolving Loan Fund. These funds will encourage developers to preserve and increase the stock of safe, decent, and affordable housing for severely cost-burdened renters, whose lives were more significantly affected by the pandemic. The decision to create the Revolving Loan Fund was based on guidance from the U.S. Treasury and in accordance with the National Low-Income Housing Coalition’s stated need for federal investment in affordable housing for very low-income renters.
“The Revolving Loan Fund will support a long-range solution to our state’s affordable housing shortage,” said Young. “Recent economic indicators show that Alabama is ready to get back to work, with record highs in wages and job growth and historically low unemployment. We seek to further contribute to community stability by providing decent and affordable rental housing for this workforce.”
ERA Alabama will continue to review all current applications to determine if they qualify for assistance as long as funds are available. Individuals with applications in process can check their status by logging into their accounts on eraalabama.com. The ERA Call Center can also be reached at 1-833-620-2434 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
“Though the worst of the pandemic is over, we recognize the ongoing need for affordable multifamily housing in Alabama,” said Young. “AHFA remains committed to addressing that need by doing what we do best – funding the creation and repair of safe and economical rental housing that our state’s financially strapped renters can afford.”