Though the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) has recently stepped up the pace in disbursing its first round of federal rental assistance money, most of the state’s local governments are far outpacing it in getting aid to those who need it.
According to the latest U.S. Treasury Department data, the DCA had dispatched only about $69 million—just 14% of the $552 million it received from the feds in the first round of the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA1) program—by October 31, making it the slowest-spending government in the state.
Of that $69 million, the agency disbursed almost $22 million to households in need in October alone. Earlier on in the ERA program, it took the DCA more than four months to spend that much, after the Treasury Department appropriated the first round of funds in January 2021.
Both the City of Atlanta and Fulton County have already spent all of their ERA1 money–$15 million for Atlanta and $22 million for Fulton–and they’ve begun chipping away at ERA2 cash.
(The City of Atlanta this week reopened the application portal for its Emergency Housing Assistance Program and will accept up to 2,000 applications at a time, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told Atlanta Civic Circle.)
Henry and DeKalb counties have spent about three-quarters of their ERA1 money, while Hall and Gwinnett counties have doled out 96% and 98%, respectively. Those four counties received between $6 million and $22 million in the ERA1 round.
These local governments secured far less ERA money than the DCA, but they’ve demonstrated they know how to spend what they have. Consequently, the state agency has indicated it could soon share some of its wealth with them for their rental aid programs.
After jeopardizing its ERA1 money by failing to disburse the mandated 30% by Sept. 30, the DCA has proposed voluntarily reallocating $74 million to local jurisdictions—including $25 million each to Fulton and DeKalb counties, $15 million to Henry County, and $9 million to Clayton County—a DCA official said last week.
But first, the feds must sign off. A Treasury Department spokesperson did not respond to Atlanta Civic Circle’s question about the transfer timeline. We will update this story when we learn more.