More than 300 applicants stay in ERA program, more expected by end of month

Screenshot of slide shared by Department of Administration on the Emergency Rental Assistance program. 

The number of Emergency Rental Assistance program applicants on continuance status has risen about by 54 applicants since October 2021, going from about 275 to 329 applicants today. That number is expected to rise by the end of the month.

"A lot" of applicants are now shifting to continue their participation in the program, ERA program manager Viveca Lindlau stated during a meeting Thursday of the Interagency Council for Coordinating Homelessness Programs. 

"That's a good thing and it's a bad thing," Lindlau said. "Because eventually their assistance will cease." 

ERA is a federally-funded program administered by the Department of Administration intended to assist with rent, power, water, internet, solid waste and other rental expenses related to displacement due to the pandemic.

The governor's office announced earlier this month that $9 million has been spent on the program to provide financial relief to more than 2,500 rental households. This leaves about $20 million available until the end of September this year.

Lindlau, in response to Guam Daily Post inquiries, stated that local officials are hoping the funds will remain on Guam even if they aren't fully expended by the deadline, but that is ultimately up to the U.S. Department of the Treasury to decide. 

However, participation in the ERA program is limited.

"Assistance is for 15 months maximum and includes any combination of rent and utilities," according to Lindlau. "Once a tenant reaches the 15 months of assistance, they will no longer be able to receive assistance. Continuance may be from one months to 14 months depending on how many months of assistance was initially disbursed."

The rental assistance program available now is known is ERA1, under the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act, according to Treasury. There is also an ERA2 program, enacted through the American Rescue Plan, but Lindlau said the release of ERA2 funds is dependent on reaching the required ERA1 threshold. 

"We have not reached that threshold and therefore do not have ERA2 funds released," she added.

ERA program officials are also assisting with relocations for applicants who have been displaced from their rental units.

In addition to ERA, Guam hopes to set up the Guam Homeowner Assistance Fund program. This has been pending Treasury's final approval of Guam's plan. 

Audrey Topasna, the interim HAF program director at the Department of Administration, said during Thursday's council meeting that they've addressed additional concerns and submitted clarifications to Treasury.

"They are in review of Guam's plan. We are in close contact with them. We are awaiting for their approval and of course, once it's approved, DOA will launch the program," Topasna said. 

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