1 in 10 Southern Nevada renter households received federal help

By: - December 3, 2021 6:11 am

Residential advertisements are shown on the west end of the valley. (Ronda Churchill/Nevada Current)

The scope of the impact of the federal pandemic rental assistance program in Nevada is beginning to emerge.

According to data compiled by the Nevada Housing Division, approximately 43,800 households across the state have received rental assistance funded through federal coronavirus relief packages.

Nevada has 1.43 million households, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The fraction of households that rent fluctuates by a few percentage points each year but was 43% in 2019, the most recent year for which data are available.

That would mean around 8.7% of Nevada renter households received rental assistance, or 3.8% of all Nevada households.

The impact is even more pronounced in Clark County because 90% of the Nevada households benefiting from the federally funded rental assistance program were located in the state’s most populous county, which has been the hardest hit economically during the pandemic.

Again using data from the Census’ American Community Survey, that would mean 10.7% of Clark County renters received rental assistance, or 4.9% of all households.

Almost 3,000 households in Washoe County benefitted from rental assistance. That’s about 3.7% of rental households there.

Additional households across Nevada benefited from other federal aid programs, such as mortgage assistance for struggling owners, but the lion’s share of housing-related relief funds were designed by Congress to help renters.

Approximately $233 million in federal relief funds have already been doled out to Nevada residents for rental assistance. That’s just under half of the total amount available. Rental assistance was first funded through the federal relief package known as the Coronavirus Relief Fund in December 2020. Then, additional tranches of money were earmarked for Emergency Rental Assistance in the two federal relief packages passed in 2021.

Those pots of money have different expiration dates, the last of which is the end of 2025.

Nevada Housing Division Administrator Steve Aichroth on Thursday told lawmakers on a covid relief funding subcommittee the state is confident all allocated money will be spent in advance of any federal deadlines.

While most of the rental assistance money involved was allocated by the federal government to the State of Nevada, its actually regional service providers that are operating the individual programs and processing applications. For Southern Nevadans, it’s Clark County Social Services. For Washoe County residents, it’s the Reno Housing Authority. The Nevada Rural Housing Authority is handling the rest of the state.

The U.S. Treasury Department has set benchmarks for states to spend their relief money, with the threat of recouping the money if those benchmarks aren’t met. States with smaller populations and less need may be in jeopardy of having to return funds, said Aichroth, but Nevada is not one of them.

Nevada has expended $114.3 million of its $208.1 million ERA-1 money, according to materials presented to the covid relief funding subcommittee. That’s 61% — the 12th highest expenditure ratio in the country. Aichroth said the remaining balance is expected to be spent by spring 2022, months before the federal deadline.

Nevada has spent $4 million of its $74.2 million ERA-2 funds. That’s 6% of the money, but the deadline for spending that money is in 2025.

While Nevada’s economic outlook has vastly improved since the peak of unemployment amid widespread business closures, many people and families continue to feel strained. Nevada and California are currently tied for having the highest unemployment rate, and the most recent data from the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation shows the workforce is still 80,000 jobs below pre-pandemic levels. The Las Vegas metropolitan area — specifically its hospitality industry — are setting that rate.

According to the Census Bureau’s weekly Household Pulse Survey, 9.7% of renters said their household is not currently caught up on rent payments.

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April Corbin Girnus
April Corbin Girnus

April Corbin Girnus is an award-winning journalist with a decade of media experience. She has been a beat writer at Las Vegas Sun, a staff writer at LEO Weekly, web editor of Las Vegas Weekly and a blogger documenting North American bike share systems’ efforts to increase ridership in underserved communities. An occasional adjunct journalism professor, April steadfastly rejects the notion that journalism is a worthless major. Amid the Great Recession, she earned a B.A. in journalism from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where she served as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper. She later earned an M.A. in media studies and a graduate certificate in media management from The New School for Public Engagement. A stickler about municipal boundary lines, April enjoys teaching people about unincorporated Clark County. She grew up in Sunrise Manor and currently resides in Paradise with her husband, two children and two mutts.

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