Coronavirus concerns pushed legislators to create a third wave of financial assistance for citizens — dubbed the American Rescue Plan by President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats.
This same bill is set to provide all jurisdictions in the D.C. area energy assistance and to boost the District’s rental assistance.
Friday, officials at the U.S. Treasury Department and the White House announced the disbursement of energy and rental assistance funds from that plan. Those funds were expected to benefit the District directly.
Five jurisdictions, along with several cities and tribes received the first round of funding. Those jurisdictions included New Jersey, New York, Oregon, California and the District.
Currently, D.C.’s total rental assistance reallocation sits above $17.7 million, as first reported by Politico.
States were encouraged by the Treasury to provide additional rent resources and implement policies aimed at preventing evictions within their borders.
Meanwhile, across all three local jurisdictions, low-income energy assistance programs financed by the government received a significant boost. Maryland received $143 million for its Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program through the fiscal year, while Virginia received over $179 million and D.C. received $24.9 million.
The White House highlighted its early push to call on utility companies to avoid shut-offs this winter, and requested states plan ahead on their resource distribution. This was just days before jurisdictions like D.C. announced the end of their utility moratorium.
The White House also asked for states and tribes to coordinate their rental and energy assistance programs.
“The Department of Health and Human Services and the Treasury Department have issued guidance and co-hosted webinars on LIHEAP and ERA best practices that have attracted over 500 administrators — collectively representing 47 states, the District of Columbia, and 72 tribal governments,” the administration said in a statement. “More than 50% of these administrators now report they are coordinating across these programs.”
The Associated Press reported that aid was designed to “cushion the shock of higher winter energy costs.” However, Republican legislators continue to state that the relief package signed into law in March has caused rising inflation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.