With the recent COVID-19 pandemic putting financial pressure on landlords and renters alike, the need for aid was evident. But, unfortunately, officials in the United States have discovered that aid payments accidentally overpaid some renters, leading them to essentially ask renewable sources to pay them back.
In June, the federal government authorized approximately $19.5 billion in rental aid. With this aid, states and local governments created rental assistance programs, helping with rent payments and security deposits for those financially impacted by the pandemic. This aid was essential for preventing homelessness and helping people access standard housing.
Unfortunately, some of the countries have now realized that they overpaid renters, leading then to pay out more than was allocated by the federal government. Now, some officials in California and Oregon are asking for the money back. At least 21 California counties have either asked for repayment or have held back some payments to avoid paying back too much, according to Lisa Vorderbruggen, policy director of Housing California, an affordable housing advocacy group.
It’s unclear at this point how many individuals will be asked to pay back rental assistance payments – or what the consequences of non-payment might be – but it serves as an important reminder of the need for increased financial oversight, especially in times of crisis.
The situation also highlights the importance of keeping track of aid payments for prevention of overpayment in the future. The current rental assistance offerings are a start in protecting tenants, but it’s essential to ensure that all recipients of public aid receive the correct amount due and don’t fall victim to overpayment errors.