Gordon Responds to Congressman’s Criticism of Wyoming’s Rental Assistance Program
In a press release, Governor Mark Gordon responded to a letter from Congressman James Clyburn about Wyoming’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).
Clyburn's letter highlighted the nationwide underspending by the 426 local governments eligible to administer rental assistance.
In a letter, Gordon said:
"His unwarranted shot places blame for that problem squarely on the shoulders of Wyoming and five other states."
The press release claims that one data point used by Clyburn is described by the U.S. Census Bureau as having "potentially serious data quality issues."
The letter released by Gordon points to the weekly household pulse survey's that Clyburn sites to establish how many renters are behind on their payments.
It specifically points to a disclaimer stating " sample sizes may be small and the standard errors may be large" and "The Census Bureau considers estimated coefficients of variation (standard error divided by the estimate times 100) over 30 percent to indicate potentially serious data quality issues related to sampling error."
Between the two federal rental assistance programs, Wyoming was allocated a total of $352 million to give to residents struggling to pay their rent.
"The $352 million is part of how Wyoming will solve our state’s housing issues, but the program as legislated cannot practically spend that amount on rental and utility assistance alone within the time frames set by Congress, especially in the least-populated state in the nation. It’s clear Congressman Clyburn does not understand the issues that matter here in Wyoming, because if he did he would work to help us use those funds to develop affordable housing."
Since May, Wyoming has given out $8.5 million in rental assistance funds to local non-profit organizations, tenants, and landlords, which is 2.4% of the allocated funds.
By August, the ERAP had increased the amount of approved applicants to 951 from 351 at the end of June, which equaled 30% of completed applications.
That number has since increased to 1,456 as of September 9, out of 3,212 applications submitted, which equals 45% of completed applications, while 1,394 have been started but not fully completed.
A majority of the $4.5 million given out by ERAP so far has gone to landlords, with only $798,000, or around 17%, given to renters.
In his letter, Clyburn ranked Wyoming last in the nation because Wyoming has spent the lowest proportion of its allocation compared to other states, which Gordon believes is an inaccurate measurement to use.
He believes Wyoming's small population and lack of a widespread eviction crisis due to the pandemic based on the number of evictions filed in circuit court showcase the flaws in Clyburn's criticism
Gordon said the funding given to Wyoming should be reallocated in various ways, such as more money being given to the Homeowners Assistance Program rather than ERAP, as 70% of households in the state are owner occupied.