At the next Cobb County Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 28 at 7 p.m., the board will consider whether to use an additional source of federal funding, the ERA2 program, to continue providing rental and utility assistance to residents impacted financially by the COVID pandemic.
This money would come from funds the county accepted from the Emergency Rental Assistance 2 (ERA2) program.
At this point the nonprofits responsible for dispersing funds for assistance have distributed more than two thirds of the money the county was allocated. Those funds were provided by ERA1, and will expire on September 30.
When asked by the Courier to explain the decision the board will be taking up, Cobb Communications Director Ross Cavitt wrote in an email, “Earlier this year we essentially needed to tell the feds whether or not we would pass or play on the ERA2 funds.”
“The vote was to accept the money, but the board would only authorize its use should the ERA1 funds be exhausted. Since we are now on that path, Tuesday’s agenda item would authorize its use and spell out how it would be used,” he said. “Essentially it would be a continuation of the current system with the monies divided among the five nonprofits for distribution.”
A FAQ from the National Low Income Housing Coalition describes the expiration dates for the Emergency Rental Assistance 1 (ERA1) program, and the Emergency Rental Assistance 2 (ERA2) program as follows:
ERA1 funds generally expire on September 30, 2022. The Treasury Department may recapture “excess funds” unobligated funds beginning on September 30, 2021 and re-obligate it to other grantees that have spent at least 65% of their funds. The 65% refers to the threshold a grantee must meet to receive additional funds; it is unclear how Treasury will define “excess funds.” There is no requirement that Treasury sweep all unobligated funds or even unobligated funds if Treasury believes the grantee will spend it. ERA2 funds expire on September 30, 2025.
A news release on the county website states:
Five nonprofit organizations have worked to distribute the $22.8 million Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA1) allocation and with assistance from the Cobb Magistrate Court and others more than $15 million has been distributed into the community. Local governments were under a deadline to distribute 65% of the funding by the end of September, but with that goal surpassed commissioners will consider using “ERA2” funds to continue the program.
Commissioners accepted $7.2 million in ERA2 funds earlier this year. These funds will be available through September 2025.
The same five nonprofit organizations that are currently administering the program will distribute the funds.