In some localities, grantees have found that engaging with the local utility companies can enhance efficiencies within the program. In some cases, utility companies can help communicate with potential ERA applicants about benefits of the program.
Thoughtful deployment of data collected through online applications can also help provide more immediate relief to applicants when strategically shared with utility companies.
Richland County, SC
Richland County, SC has developed a strong relationship with the area’s utility company. The county proactively reached out to the company to discuss ERA program benefits and found receptive partners. Upon notification that a tenant has applied for ERA funds, the utility company gives the applicant a grace period, pausing disconnection of utility services and allowing ERA program administrators to process the payment.
City of Memphis and Shelby County, TN
The City of Memphis and Shelby County’s joint program developed a partnership with the local utility company to more quickly identify renters who have started ERA applications. This partnership builds off a pre-existing relationship between the utility company and other local government programs which further evolved as the ERA infrastructure was being developed. Originally program administrators would send notifications to the utility company in batches, but the process has since evolved into more direct data sharing. Once identified as an ERA recipient, the applicant receives a grace period on utility payments and qualifies to have utilities turned back on when applicable. These processes expedite the effectiveness of the application even before the program administers funds to address utility arrears.