ERAP in Wyoming to Stop Accepting New Applications
Starting on Nov. 11, Wyoming's Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) stopped accepting new applications for the program due to a lack of federal funding.
The change only applies to people who haven't submitted an application before and people who have already been approved can extend their assistance so long as funding is available and people have been using the program for less than 18 months.
At a Wyoming Department of Family Services (DFS) town hall on Nov. 4, Karla McClaren, the DFS's Homeless Services Program Manager, said that they don't currently know if DFS will get more funding for ERAP or not.
"It's up in the if we're going to get additional money or not. I think we'll have a better picture at the first of the year of what that's gonna look like," McClaren said. "Right now in our predictions, we don't know. It looks like we're not gonna get any money, but if it did happen, and as we talked about earlier in the slide presentation if we do get additional funds, we will make sure you're very aware of that and what we're gonna do with the funding, how we're gonna spend that. Really it's hard because we just don't have a lot of the questions answered. We're waiting on the U.S. Treasury for a lot of that."
Landlords have 10 days to submit a matching application, meaning if anyone applied on Nov. 10, their landlord has until Nov. 20 to submit their application, with applications taking up to 40 business days to be approved.
According to the town hall, contracts that the DFS has with housing stability services across the state will continue until June 30, 2023.
DFS said that they don't know if they will get additional federal funding for the program going forward, as it's based on how much they are spending and Wyoming didn't meet its spending ratio in the second quarter but did in the third quarter.
Kelly Wessels, executive director of Community Action Partnership in Natrona County, said that with federal funding drying up, they're gonna have to find other ways of serving the community with less.
"To be frank, we're gonna do the best we can on a case-by-case basis, but there's a finite amount of money," Wessels said. "We're not in charge of ERAP, that's not our thing...if there's nothing for them to access, what does that look like? Then we will look at what our budget looks like, we're reassessing, kind of planning for January forward of how many people could we serve and that's all going to be very dependent on what we have to backfill. If we have to stabilize households so that they don't fall further into homelessness or something like that. We have to reallocate funding that way. Then that's just going to mean fewer households that we're going to help."
Wessels said that because of COVID relief funds from the federal government, their budget tripled, but now they will have to find other ways to help the community without that funding.
"Economic recovery, especially in rural communities is far slower than it is in urbanized areas," Wessels said. "So we have to remember that what's impacting people here is going to last longer and probably need the resources, but they may not be there because it's not getting the same type of attention. Rural areas consistently do that...it tripled in size and now it's going to be severely reduced. With that, also a reduction for funding services that are no longer available period. They have either titrated out or sunsetted, which happens in human services all the time...what does it cost us to operate, what is having us components that deals with emergency services, we understand that's necessary. But then what kind of programming and infrastructure can we build that is really about increasing the skill level and education so people can really act independently of us? Education, budgeting classes. Those are the kinds of things that we also need to invest in because it's gonna be a while before things get a little easier."