Over the past few blog posts, we have gone over the American Rescue Plan for 2021, including the context surrounding its introduction and some of the many benefits areas covered by its $1.9 trillion dollars’ worth of funding. Among the many areas covered in the ARP is the real estate industry, and while the act does not address the recently extended federal eviction moratorium, it does provide funding that can help mitigate some of the challenges brought on by the pandemic. This includes $40 billion of rental and mortgage assistance, with $21.55 billion for emergency rental assistance, $5 billion for emergency housing vouchers, $750 million for tribal housing needs, and $100 million for rural housing.1
In this last blog of the series, we will go over the many potential benefits for landlords and their tenants.
Direct Assistance to Tenants
First, there is the significant amount of aid going directly to tenants themselves. Among other things, this includes emergency rental assistance, emergency assistance for rural housing, homelessness assistance, and addition money for the Homeowner Assistance Fund and the Fair Housing Initiatives Program.2 Low-income tenants can qualify for emergency rental assistance benefits out of a pool of $1.2 billion, which is managed by state and local governments.3 Also, tenants that are at risk of becoming homeless can receive emergency housing vouchers.4
There are also several benefits specifically targeted towards business owners. For instance, according to Section 5002 of the ARP, businesses with fewer than 11 employees that also suffered a 50% loss of business can qualify for a $5,000 EIDL advance, though they are not taxable.5 Restaurants can qualify for PPP loan assistance with a more relaxed definition of “affiliation” for employees and receipts of related companies (though the business cannot have more than 20 locations (as of March 13, 2020).6 Furthermore, the SBA can provide direct grants for restaurants as part of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which can cover payroll, mortgage, rent, utilities, maintenance, certain building improvements, operational expenses, and more. This is only available to businesses that did not receive prior COVID-19 assistance though.7
Indirect Assistance to Landlords
While landlords have remained among the groups most adversely affected by the pandemic, they will not receive direct assistance from the American Rescue Plan Act.8 This is troubling, as it ignores such a heavily afflicted group. However, the direct federal rental assistance and restaurant assistance will eventually trickle down to landlords. They might also find relief through unemployment benefits and the long-awaited $1,400 stimulus payments, which many tenants may use to pay their rent.9
The Emergency Rental Assistance Provision
The ERA provision grants $25 billion in funds to assist homeowners, eligible renters, and landlords to cover rent, utilities, home energy costs, and other housing related expenses with a maximum of 18 months of assistance per eligible household. All funds will be distributed at state and local governments for this purpose via the U.S. Department of Treasury.10 An “eligible household” is defined as a renter household in which at least one or more individuals:
- qualify for unemployment,
- have experienced a reduction in household income,
- incurred significant costs,
- demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability,
- have a household at or below 80% of the area median,
- or generally experienced a hardship due to COVID-19.
Every state that applied by the January 12 deadline received at least $200 million by Jan. 26., though higher population states received more funding. Eligible households may receive up to 12 months of assistance, plus an additional 3 months if necessary as to ensure housing stability. Assistance can only be allowed in 3-month increments, after which point an eligible household must reapply for funds.
Since there is no single database for the ERA Program, you will need to go through your own state and local programs to receive assistance. For instance, residents of Porter County in Indiana need to through their “Emergency Rent & Utility Assistance” program.11 This includes numerous resources open to all NWI residents. Notable ones include:
- Indiana Emergency Rental Assistance Program: Provides qualified renters with rent, utilities, and internet assistance. Must be a CODIV-19 related hardship. Assistance is available for up to 12 months. NWI residents, other than in Lake County, can apply at indianahousingnow.org. Lake County residents can apply for similar assistance at lakecountyin.care.
- Catholic Charities Rental Assistance Program: Assists with rent and utility payments. Serves Porter, Lake, Laporte, and Starke counties. Can be reached at catholic-charities.org.
- Low-income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) Program: Helps pay electric and heating bills. Applicants must fall within 150% of the federal poverty guidelines to receive assistance. Assistance is provided through May 14, 2021.
- NIPSCO Hardship Program: Customers between 151%-250% of the federal poverty level can receive up to $400 in gas bill assistance. Hardship funds are available through May 31, 2021 or until the funds are exhausted.
- Porter County Aging & Community Services: Assists with rent, utility, transportation, and some medical expenses. Serves Porter County.
- Salvation Army: Provides/assists with housing and utility needs.
Though the ERA program is centered around tenants, if a resident does not apply for the relief directly and is behind on their rent, the housing provider can apply on their behalf and receive the funds directly. There are even situations in which a landlord can apply on behalf of a resident who has since vacated, though this judged on a case-by-case basis.
The American Rescue Plan of 2021 is likely to mitigate at least some of damages done by the COVID-19 pandemic to the U.S. economy and real estate market. While the federal eviction moratorium has still not been addressed, tenants have at the very least received some much-needed aid, which should, hypothetically, trickle down to landlords. Going forward, we at CCSK Law recommend that landlords and property managers explore their options for direct (as individuals) and indirect (as landlords) aid from the federal government via this COVID-19 relief law. Additionally, they should work with tenants to ensure that they are getting the best possible help. There are obviously still going to be challenges ahead, but there is at least some recent to be optimistic about the path going forward.
1. Praw, D. A. (2021, March 16). Real Estate Relief in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. JD Supra. https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/real-estate-relief-in-the-american-5362954/.
2. Hsu, E., &; Praw, D. A. (2021, March 16). Real estate relief in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021: Insights. Holland & Knight. https://www.hklaw.com/en/insights/publications/2021/03/real-estate-relief-in-the-american-rescue-plan-act-of-2021.
3. Kelly, S. J. (2021, March 11). Summary of Business Provisions in American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The National Law Review. https://www.natlawreview.com/article/summary-business-provisions-american-rescue-plan-act-2021.
4. Kelly, S. J.
5. Kelly, S. J.
6. Kelly, S. J.
7. Kelly, S. J.
8. Hsu, E., &; Praw, D. A.
9. Hsu, E., &; Praw, D. A.
10. Ostroff, C. (2021, March 17). American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Fannie Mae Multifamily. https://multifamily.fanniemae.com/news-insights/multifamily-wire/american-rescue-plan-act-2021.
11. United Way of Porter County. (n.d.). Rent and Utility Assistance. United Way of Porter County. https://www.unitedwaypc.org/Rent-Assistance.