COVID-19 and Housing Security: Assessing Equity & Efficiency Across North Carolina’s Emergency Rental Assistance Programs

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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.





Foley, Emma (2021). COVID-19 and Housing Security: Assessing Equity & Efficiency Across North Carolina’s Emergency Rental Assistance Programs. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from

Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.