Individuals and families thrive when they have access to stable and affordable homes, and communities are stronger overall when its residents can avoid the high financial and emotional costs of evictions. However, skyrocketing rents are outpacing wage growth and Idaho faces a shortage of over 24,000 affordable and available homes for renters with modest incomes, making it difficult for Idaho families to hold onto stable and affordable homes statewide.i
Idaho’s lawmakers can prevent the high costs of eviction and ensure Idaho families remain safely and stably housed by approving a supplemental budget request that immediately authorizes $32 million in federal dollars for emergency rental assistance (ERA) in Idaho.
Emergency Rental Assistance Effectively Prevented Eviction for 26,000 Idaho Households Since Spring 2021
To date, ERA funding has prevented eviction for over 26,000 Idaho households who were threatened by pandemic-related income and job loss.ii Idaho renters experienced higher risks of eviction during the COVID-19 pandemic due to unexpected income loss, a growing state population, and rapidly increasing rent prices throughout the state. These funds also ensured Idaho’s landlords, property managers, and utility companies were able to remain financially whole during this time of economic uncertainty.
About 2 out of every 3 households served by ERA lived outside of Ada County, demonstrating that eviction prevention is needed throughout the state. For many Idahoans – especially those living in rural Idaho – ERA funds are the only form of housing support services they can access when facing the threat of eviction.
A Brief Overview of Federal Emergency Rental Assistance
Congress took action to protect renters impacted by the pandemic by approving two rounds of emergency rental assistance through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (ERA1) and the American Rescue Plan Act (ERA2). Although ERA1 dollars expired in September 2022, Idaho still has a federal allocation of $32 million in ERA2 available for immediate legislative authorization. Idaho funds left unused will be distributed to other states and localities by the U.S. Department of Treasury to support out of state programs.
Changes in ERA2 Eligibility Demonstrate Continued Need for Critical Housing Supports
Households served and disbursement of ERA in Idaho increased significantly after ERA2 funds became available to Idaho renters in July 2022. Prior to July, Idaho renters receiving ERA through the Housing Preservation Program had to meet the eligibility requirements outlined for ERA1, which required that all applicants prove or attest that their financial hardship was directly or indirectly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. ERA2 requirements expanded eligibility to renters with modest incomes who experienced any type of financial hardship during the pandemic. This trend suggests that many Idaho renters are still struggling to keep up with Idaho’s challenging rental landscape. The removal of bureaucratic red tape under this changed eligibility may also have made it easier for Idahoans who were impacted by the pandemic but unable to provide supporting documentation to receive this assistance.
Although monthly disbursements decreased after peaking in August 2022, the number of households served did not. Disbursement rates largely dropped as a result of program policy changes that were enacted in anticipation of funds being exhausted, such as the removal of short-term hotel stays from the application.iii
Idaho lawmakers have the opportunity to ensure Idaho families remain safely and stably housed immediately and in the future by:
- Immediately authorizing the continued deployment of federal ERA2 funds to support Idaho renters at risk of eviction.
i National Low Income Housing Coalition, “The 2022 Gap Report.” Accessed on January 10, 2023 at: https://nlihc.org/gap/state/id
ii Idaho Housing and Finance Association’s December 2022 report to the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee.
iii Email correspondence with Idaho Housing and Finance Association, December 19, 2022
A previous version of this report indicated that the state of Idaho had $15.5 million in ERA2 funds available for legislative authorization. However, this amount increased to $32 million due to an additional disbursement of funds received by Idaho from the U.S. Treasury. We were made aware of this change and updated this report to reflect the accurate amount.