MAYOR ANNOUNCES LIMITED GRANT PROGRAM TO ASSIST HOUSING PROVIDERS HIT BY PANDEMIC
AN OPPORTUNITY FOR DOUBLE DIPPING ON TOP OF
FEDERAL (CARES ACT) ASSISTANCE?
TENAC URGES AG AND OTHER WATCHDOGS TO OVERSEE HOUSING PROVIDERS' POTENTIAL FOR WINDFALL WASTE, FRAUD AND ABUSE, WHILE PROFITEERING FROM TENANT MISFORTUNE
Dear Tenants and Friends, The mayor has announced a new program to provide rent assistance to help tenants avoid eviction due to the current pandemic. The program would provide grants to landlords to pay the rent arrears their tenants have accrued because of pandemic related economic problems. The deadline for housing providers to apply is next Monday, December 11th.(Details in link below). Details seem to suggest that the program is limited mostly to publicly funded low income housing providers in the DCHD [Dept. of Housing and Community Development] portfolio and FHA [Federal Housing Agency] portfolio. It also appears to allow grants to smaller, private landlords who own 20 or less units. Grants to landlords will provide up to 80 percent of their tenants arrears in rent, up to $2000 per month. SHARINGTHE BURDEN. In what may potentially be a milestone change, landlords must forgive the remaining 20 percent tenants owe. We hope this forgiveness marks the beginning of change TENAC has been fighting for: a policy where landlords share the burden of the pandemic. We hope this program is the beginning of the mutual sacrifice that will help all through this long pandemic, back to a prosperous economy DOUBLE OR EVEN TRIPLE DIP? We strongly urge careful monitoring of the program. We are wary that landlords may double dip, by demanding rent arrears from tenants on top of the grants these rents cover. Also of concern is potential for landlords to take federal assistance on top of rents covered by the DC grant program. Quite plausibly then, a potential for "triple dipping" exists: taking federal money, DC grant program money, and rent payments from tenants whose rents are covered by these programs. Reporting and enforcement mechanisms are virtually nonexistent and we see big corporations get away with it every day. Observers already report that some landlords are collecting double rent payments, from tenants who pay their rent that has already been covered by federal CARES Act assistance. We hope the proposed grants program does not afford a similar opportunity in addition to any current waste, fraud and abuse occurring. We strongly urge enforcement and oversight from the Office of Attorney General and/or other watchdogs to safeguard the expenditure of government funds, fairness to tenants, and the ethical administration of these assistance programs. We urge the council and other watchdogs, public, private, and nonprofit, to perform diligent oversight and accounting of these assistance programs. RENT HELP DIRECTLY GIVEN TO TENANTS. There are also rent assistance programs for tenants (link below).These assistance programs have not been expanded adequately to meet the current crisis. While we commend the council for expanding rent assistance, the situation remains dire. Only tenants with incomes under about 45K will qualify. Worse, assistance is capped at about $10,000. Reasonable observers note that such a cap is woefully inadequate to meet the current crisis. With the crisis in its ninth month and expected to last a year or longer, the upcoming eviction tsunami will overwhelm these resources, expanded as they are. Additionally, the programs are thought to be poorly administered. If true, problems administering the programs will only exacerbate the upcoming crisis, unless staffing for these programs is beefed up to meet actual demand. We urge the council to act and meet the crisis.
----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Mayor Muriel Bowser <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Friday, December 4, 2020, 06:31:52 PM EST
Subject: Rental Assistance December 4, 2020
Letter from the Mayor
This week, we launched new Housing Stabilization Grants to offer financial relief to renters and housing providers who have been hit hard by this pandemic. For those who have lost their jobs or had their income reduced, we know that these are extremely difficult times. And while an eviction moratorium is still in place, we don't want renters to delay seeking help; we have financial assistance available right now that can help you get current on your rent payments.
The new grants will provide $10 million in direct assistance to housing providers to help cover missed rent payments. Here's how it works: the program will pay 80% of delinquent rent, up to $2,000 per month, if the housing provider forgives the rest. In addition to housing providers in the District's housing portfolio, the grants are also available to small housing providers with 20 units or fewer in their portfolio. Applications are open until December 11 and are being reviewed on a rolling basis.
The Housing Stabilization Grants recognize two critical needs in our community:
the need to provide financial relief to tenants unable to pay rent; and
the need to preserve the District's stock of affordable housing by helping housing providers make their payments.
These grants are in addition to our existing rent relief programs such as the COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program (CHAP) and the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).
Residents and housing providers can find more information about the new grants, CHAP and ERAP, and other rental assistance programs at coronavirus.dc.gov/rent
In This Week's Newsletter:
Updates to Testing at DCPS
This week, Mayor Bowser announced new asymptomatic COVID-19 testing protocols for students and staff participating in DC Public Schools (DCPS) in-person programming. This pilot for schools with CARE or In-Person Learning Classrooms will include in-school testing for students and mailed testing kits for staff. The pilot will begin next week, and tests are at no cost to students or staff.
DC Health will manage on-site testing of students who attend CARE Classrooms at their schools. Students may receive a PCR nasal-swab test, administered by DC Health medical staff, approximately every 10 days. A testing consent form signed by the student's parent or guardian will be required, and schools will provide those documents to families.
DCPS staff and partner staff supporting CARE Classrooms in person will receive a self-administered testing kit in the mail once a week. Staff will not be required to complete the weekly test but are encouraged to utilize the convenience offered by this at-home method.
Learn more about the new testing protocols HERE.
Housing Providers: Help DC Residents Find a Home for the Holidays
The Bowser Administration's annual "A Home for the Holidays" campaign seeks to transition 500 households experiencing homelessness into long-term housing during the holiday season. This year, there is a focus on vulnerable residents experiencing homelessness who are currently residing in hotels to protect them from the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The DC Department of Human Services (DHS) manages the campaign, which spans from November 15 through January 15. Housing providers who are interested in partnering with the District or who want to learn more about the supports DHS offers partners should email email@example.com.
Learn more about the campaign HERE.
Virtual EdFEST 2020
EdFEST, DC's annual public school fair, is virtual this year. On Saturday, December 12 from 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., students and families can explore the city's public and public charter school options (Pre-K 3 - Grade 12), chat directly with school representatives, and learn about the public school lottery. With the launch of the public school lottery application on December 14, 2020, Virtual EdFEST is a timely event to help families make informed choices.
Register for EdFEST HERE. Need registration support? Call the My School DC Hotline at (202) 888-6336, Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.