Scoop: Iowa forfeits millions in federal emergency housing funds
Polk County is getting nearly $28 million more in federal pandemic emergency rent assistance forfeited by the state, federal documents show.
- Another almost $17 million of Iowa's money was redistributed in late January to other states.
Why it matters: More than 20,000 Iowans are not caught up on rent, according to the Census Bureau's recent housing pulse survey.
- Of those, more than 9K say it's somewhat or very likely they'll be evicted in the next two months.
Catch up fast: The state has been allocated around a total of $344 million through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program that began under President Trump.
- The money was intended for renters in almost all of Iowa, excluding Polk County, which received separate allocations.
What's happening: Iowa's had trouble spending large portions of its share because of bureaucracy issues, Iowa Finance Authority (IFA) director Debi Durham said in 2021.
- The state reallocated $65 million to Polk County last year and has failed to meet recent spending deadlines that continue through much of 2025.
State of play: Iowa has forfeited about $89.5 million so far. Of that, just over $44.7 million has been distributed to other governments.
- Polk and Linn Counties will apply for the state's remaining forfeited amounts, Eric Kool, director of Polk County Community, Family and Youth Services, tells Axios.
The big picture:Every other state has spent a greater percentage of its ERA allocations than Iowa, according to National Low Income Housing Coalition projections.
- At least 39 states have spent 75% or more of their first allocations allocated in early 2021.
- Iowa has spent less than 44% — or just under $50.1 million — of its first allocation.
Separately, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced in 2021 that she returned $95 million in federal money for COVID-19 testing in schools because the state didn't need it.
What's next: Polk County will use the money for more emergency rent assistance and development of affordable housing.
- Applications will be accepted in coming months, Kool says.
Of note: IFA did not respond to our request for comment.
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