Wednesday November 3, 2021
The Honorable Doug Ducey
Governor of Arizona
1700 W. Washington Ave., Phoenix, AZ, 85007
Dear Governor Ducey,
I am reaching out on behalf of our 900,000 Arizona members to express our concerns regarding an issue in the rollout of the first tranche of funds under the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) funds from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
It has come to our attention that the great state of Arizona is at risk of losing tens of millions of dollars in federal support due to the lack of dispersed monies. According to U.S. Department of Treasury’s (Treasury) recent guidance, if the state is unable to spend at least 65% of their ERA #1 funds – a measure that captures both spent and committed funds , the state will have to submit a program improvement plan by November 15, 2021. Currently, the state has expended 31% of the allotted funds under ERA #1 as of September 30, 2021. It is important for the state to develop a plan to spend at least 65% of the total allotted ERA #1 fund, which is $492,131,217.20. If the state fails to develop the plan, the Treasury will reallocate dollars to other states that have spent the ERA#1 money and need additional funding.
It is critical to get this rental assistance into the hands of renters who are desperate for support. Failure to distribute these federal dollars would be devastating to those who need help from the state. It is common knowledge at this point that rents in Arizona, specifically around Maricopa County, are extremely high; many residents are spending more than 33% of their income on rent. There is a negative 136,032 shortage of rental homes for extremely low-income renters. In the City of Phoenix, roughly half of all renters are cost-burdened. In a region where homelessness is on the rise, it cannot be overstated how valuable this assistance is to preventing mass evictions. Severely cost burdened poor households are more likely than other renters to sacrifice other necessities like healthy food and healthcare to pay the rent, and to experience unstable housing situations like evictions.
Regarding the recent announcement of the Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF), AARP applauds you and Director Simplot for finding a solution to also help those who are struggling who own their homes. We will make every effort and answer any call to help get the word out about this new program and see that all of the funds are being utilized.
However, time is running out on the ERA funds for renters. We implore you to make this a priority so that Arizonans who are in need of rental assistance are able to get the support that they need; we are fast approaching a critical deadline. AARP Arizona stands ready to help you and your administration get the word out about the available rental assistance. If you have questions or wish to discuss these items further, please contact me or AARP Arizona’s Advocacy Director, Brendon Blake, at email@example.com or 602-245-8801.
Dana Marie Kennedy, MSW State Director, AARP Arizona
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