WASHINGTON DC — A new Watchdog report reveals that the federal government lacks data for more than a quarter of rental assistance payments made in 2021.
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The Treasury Department is responsible for managing over $46 billion allocated to the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program. The program was introduced to help low-income families who have faced hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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report Investigators from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) have pointed to oversight concerns as findings show the Treasury is missing data on 26% of household payments in 2021.
Daniel Garcia-Diaz, Managing Director of GAO’s Financial Markets and Community Investment Team, said:
“ERA program oversight would benefit from improved data collection and assessment of improper payment risks,” the report said. “Without better data collection and reporting, Congress and the Treasury will lack information on program outcomes.”
read: Applications for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program close at 5pm
The report notes that the program will benefit the most needy families, especially low-income renters who were at risk of eviction.
Lawmakers have held congressional hearings over the past few years about the need for this help for low-income families.
At a congressional hearing in July 2021, Georgia renter Katrina Chisholm said, “The fear of homelessness has become a reality for me.
“This program has helped a lot of people, some of the most needy families out there,” said Garcia-Diaz. “However, despite the many benefits, I think we are still concerned that the Treasury Department has not sufficiently overseen this program to ensure that the right families receive the right amount. increase.”
read: $740 million added to emergency rental assistance program to help families
The report said the Treasury Department had taken steps to improve data collection and reporting, but said there was more work to be done.
It calls on the State Department to provide a detailed assessment of improper risk payments and to release complete data from all payments.
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In response to the GAO report, the Treasury Department said it would “continue to engage with Congress to resolve these gaps in the recovery program’s administrative funding to protect the integrity of the program.”