The housing crisis continues to grow in the D.C. area. But there is some potentially good news for renters in the District.
A recent request from Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office to move out $20 million from the District’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) into a rapid rehousing program, which helps people experiencing homelessness, was blocked by the D.C. Council on Tuesday.
Councilmembers discussed ways to keep the rental assistance program open at a Nov. 7 council meeting.
Officials said that when ERAP, which helps D.C. residents earning less than 40% of the area’s median income avoid eviction, opened for applications in October, it crashed. The system received a total of 3,578 applications, highlighting the need for the program.
“We cannot take away funding from a program helping residents avoid eviction and homelessness,” Councilman Robert White said in a statement.
He said that he along with Council Chairman Phil Mendelson directed an additional $33 million last fiscal year in federal funding to the program to help more people after it was out of money.
White added that the ERAP applications “represent thousands of residents, who without assistance, would be at risk for eviction.”
A report from the nonprofit United Planning Organization revealed that over 50% of D.C. renters use over half of their paychecks on rent and utilities.
White and Mendelson put up a disapproval resolution to prevent money from being taken from ERPA. The council voted unanimously in support.
The council’s focus on offering rental assistance comes after the D.C. Attorney General’s office filed a lawsuit earlier this month against 14 of the city’s largest landlords alleging widespread rent collusion.