||COVID-19 has exacerbated the nation’s existing affordable crisis, putting approximately
14 million Americans out of work, and leading to widespread housing insecurity nationwide.
This hardship has disproportionately affected renters, many of whom are just a paycheck
away from being unable to pay their rent. Estimates show that 30-40 million renters
could face eviction due to non-payment of rent. COVID-19 has impacted households differently,
with low-income households, households of color, and single-parent households bearing
the brunt of financial hardship and housing insecurity.
This report explores how government agencies in North Carolina have responded to the
emerging housing crisis with emergency rental assistance programs. This research aims
to answer the policy question: How have state and local policies and program design
elements impacted funding distribution across North Carolina’s emergency rental assistance
programs? To answer this question, this project employed mixed methods research including
document analysis, qualitative interviews with program administrators, and quantitative
analysis of participant data.
This analysis finds that renters and program administrators alike experienced a series
of challenges accessing and administering ERA programs. Renters often faced accessibility
barriers, including limited access to online applications, burdensome documentation
requirements, and complex referral processes. Administrators faced challenges including
limited administrative funds, inadequate staffing capacity, and limited technological
infrastructure to keep up with demand. This report offers a series of recommendations
to inform policy making and program implementation across five areas: 1) cross-program
collaboration; 2) outreach and referrals; 3) application support; 4) assistance distribution,
and; 5) program capacity.