Aug 15, 2022 - News

Iowa could forfeit millions of dollars in federal rent assistance

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Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Iowa has yet to spend nearly $80 million of federal emergency rent assistance it received in late 2020, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC).

Why it matters: Millions of dollars could be forfeited if it's not allocated by Sept. 30.

Catch up fast: Iowa received just over $195 million in the first round of funding from the Emergency Rental Assistance program.

Context: Iowa has struggled to spend the money and was granted federal permission to reallocate $65 million to Polk and Linn Counties earlier this year.

  • Of the remaining $130M, less than 45% has been appropriated β€” among the lowest percentages in the nation according to the NLIHC.

Between the lines: Bureaucracy is making the state's work tricky, Iowa Finance Authority (IFA) director Debi Durham told the Register last year.

  • The agency distributes the state's portion to the areas outside of Polk and Linn and has been stymied by technical and regulatory issues, she said.

Meanwhile, Polk and Des Moines have used the nonprofit group IMPACT to manage its allocations and, unlike the state, allows the money to be used for future rent payments.

  • Its allotments will be used before the spending deadlines, IMPACT's director Anne Bacon told Axios last week.

State of play: A second round of allocations β€” commonly known as ERA2 β€” provides Iowa with just over $149 million.

  • Yes, but: The spending deadline for that chunk is in 2025.

The latest: Some of the state's on-deadline spending might qualify to help pay for housing projects that benefit low-income families, Polk County Supervisor's Chairperson Angela Connolly tells Axios.

  • County officials are reviewing options. A request to state and federal officials is possible in coming weeks, she said.

Of note: IFA is accepting rent and utility assistance applications for its program through Aug. 30.

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