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Streamlining Emergency Rental Assistance

Challenges with the 2021 roll out of Emergency Rental Assistance resulted in lengthy delays in fund distribution to those in need. This project examines the reasons why, and proposes opportunities for system improvements that could have larger applications

Welcome to the NewImpact.share pages for Emergency Rental Assistance, an innovation catalyst project led by NewImpact to address the challenges associated with the 2021 rollout of the federally funded $47 billion Emergency Rental Assistance program, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The project, which ran from August 2021 - January 2022, with funding support from the Emes Project and , focused on the four-to-eight month delays experienced by those applying for emergency funds. The goal was to find potential opportunities for increasing efficiency, equity, and effectiveness of the roll-out process.
We invite you to explore these pages containing project details and shared findings, including recommendations and a whitepaper (below), which connects the rollout of rental assistance funds to that of larger systems dealing with large-scale emergency cash transfers.
What’s Inside
: A deeper dive into project details, featuring a Spotlight Map, Impact Journeys, and a Systems Map
: Project-specific background and supplementary pieces, including Best Practice summaries and public data matching tables.
Creating a Tri-Sector Solution for Rental Assistance
With rental assistance programs nationwide struggling to distribute funds, NewImpact identified implementation bottlenecks—complicated application interfaces, burdensome verification processes, inefficient processing systems—as causes for delayed payment. These became leverage points for opportunity.
, a startup software company specializing in providing emergency cash to college students, saw an opportunity to use their technology and equitable approach to support rental assistance efforts and help prevent evictions. NewImpact developed a tri-sector strategy that supports these goals by leveraging resources across all three sectors.
Resources leveraged:
Private Sector: Edquity repurposes their application process, offering applicant prioritization and sorting capabilities, a user-friendly admin dashboard, tenant/landlord notifications, and integrated payment processing.   
Social Sector: Advocacy groups helped identify 500 national program managers, many still in need of a software platform able to integrate the needs of the renters, landlords, and social sector outreach organizations, while moving billions of dollars quickly to prevent evictions.  
Public Sector: Repurposes government databases to verify renters, and Urban Institute database ensures funds are distributed equitably across all census tracts.
Benefits reaped:
Private Sector: Expands reach into a new market, with the ability to prove out their technology as a versatile tool across the emergency cash space.
Social Sector: Increases efficiency for rental assistance administrators via well-designed portals; frees up staff capacity, and increases ability to provide better outcomes for constituents, particularly the renters in need (and their landlords).
Public Sector: Increases fund disbursement and provides better assurance that best practices are followed.

Project Recommendations: A Proposed Tri-Sector Strategy
The deck below details our proposed strategy, identifying key system leverage points in helping to enhance high-volume cash transfer processes. Some browsers may prevent previewing; if pdf doesn’t appear, please download.
Whitepaper: Lessons from Emergency Rental Assistance
Our findings revealed critical implications linking rental assistance program challenges to those similarly faced by larger emergency cash distribution programs. The white paper below describes our findings and introduces a tri-sector solution with the potential to transform the cash distribution process, getting relief into the hands of people who need it—more quickly and efficiently. Some browsers may prevent previewing; if pdf doesn’t appear, please download.
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