Assessing Options for Federal Rental Assistance during the Pandemic

Brief

Assessing Options for Federal Rental Assistance during the Pandemic

Abstract

In this brief, the researchers evaluate six programs to disburse federal rental assistance to stabilize the rental market and keep renters housed during the pandemic. The researchers use program information and evidence to compare the programs along three criteria:

  • ease of implementation and flexibility to tailor to state and local needs;
  • extent to which programs target or prioritize the lowest-income, most rent-burdened households and extent to which eligibility criteria potentially exclude vulnerable households; and
  • ease by which funding could flow to tenants or owners of small, multifamily buildings (two to four units).

The researchers conclude that no single program is ready to meet the scale of need to renter households and the rental market presented by the pandemic. However, based on available evidence, the tenant-based Housing Choice Voucher and Emergency Solutions Grant programs are the best suited to deliver rent efficiently and equitably during the pandemic. Ultimately, a mix of assistance types and programs will be needed to ensure housing stability through economic recovery and in the long term.

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