In Utah, the pandemic housing relief program, Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA), was administered by the Department of Workforce Services’ Housing & Community Development Division (HCD), the same division that houses the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG). ERA, funded by Treasury, was a new program and guidance was limited and less than timely.
HCD initially partnered with Utah’s nine community action agencies (CAAs) to administer the ERA program. The partnership presented an opportunity for internal linkage and support. Challenges stemming from building a new program and from delays in guidance soon presented themselves. The CSBG State Office forwarded shared CAA concerns to ERA management and offered its CSBG meeting webinars as opportunities and a platform to address program challenges directly with the CAAs. This arrangement was successful and continued until ERA created their own meetings with the CAAs. The state office supported a communication bridge that was needed and stepped back as soon as a separate channel was created.
An added benefit of the coordination with ERA was increased communication resulting in shared awareness of backlogs and discussion of the use of CSBG to keep clients housed when delays threatened their housing. The coordination of CSBG funding to help support the challenges of ERA underscores the value of good communication.