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Effective Deployment of Louisville’s ERA Funding: Lessons
March 29, 2022
By Nishesh Chalise , Gloria Noble , Faith Weekly
In January 2021, with a looming eviction crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the first U.S. Emergency
Rental Assistance (ERA) program made funding available to assist households with rent and utilities. The
challenge: how to ensure that those resources reach the people who need them the most.
By August 2021, eight months after the ERA program was launched, local governments had distributed only
about 30% of the allocated funding. To address this slow deployment of funds, the Department of the Treasury
developed new policies that would make it easier to get the money to vulnerable families. It also started
highlighting promising practices to support local entities.
Although these policies are vital, it is important to understand the resources needed to implement them. As
Clare Wallace, the executive director of South Louisville Community Ministries, noted, “What we put together
is a shed of two-by-fours and duct tape, and what we really need is a house with a foundation.”
In this two-part series, we first describe the problem of eviction and then use the case of Louisville, Ky., to
identify key strategies needed to provide rental assistance, such that people don’t get displaced.

Evictions are often thought of as associated with having a lower and more volatile income. In his book Evicted:
Poverty and Profit in the American City, author Matthew Desmond argues that evictions, for many, can be a
beginning of hardships that trap families and individuals. An eviction results not only in losing one’s home, but
also losing possessions; having a court record, which makes finding other residences more difficult; having
difficulty maintaining a job; having to switch children’s schools; adding stress; and affecting mental health. The
pandemic has also shown that having a home and access to clean water are cornerstones of people’s well-being.
It has been two years since the pandemic started, and data from the Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey
(week 42: Jan. 26-Feb. 7, 2022) suggest that housing stability and evictions still present a challenge.
• Nearly 16% of adults (older than age 18) living in renter-occupied housing units were not caught up on rent payments. Although
this number is lower than the peak of 20% in January 2021, it has remained (above 14%) throughout the pandemic.
• Of those who were not current on payment, 43% said they were either very likely or somewhat likely to have to leave the house in
the next two months because of eviction. The graph below shows the likelihood of evictions for the seven Eighth District states,
with Kentucky having the highest response for “very likely” to be evicted.

• Of adults (older than age 18) living in renter-occupied housing units, 11% said they had no confidence in their ability to make the
following month’s payment. By comparison, 12% said the same in April 2020 when these data were first collected.

Likelihood of Having to Leave House in Next Two Months Due to Eviction: U.S. and
Fed Eighth District States

SOURCE: Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey and authors’ calculations.

Emergency Rental Assistance Programs
With millions of people without jobs and at risk of eviction, the federal government initiated two Emergency
Rental Assistance programs. The first, ERA1, was enacted on Dec. 27, 2020, under the Consolidated
Appropriations Act of 2021 and provides up to $25 billion for housing assistance. The second, ERA2, was
enacted on March 11, 2021, under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and provides up to $21.5 billion.
Funds are provided to states, U.S. territories, local governments, and (for ERA1 only) American Indian tribes
and Tribally Designated Housing Entities to distribute to households. Local entities determine who is eligible,
what to fund and how to distribute funds based on federal guidelines. Local entities may have their own
additional ERA funds and existing programs.
According to data released by the U.S. Treasury, by December 2021, $14.8 billion had been disbursed to
support more than 3 million unique households across the country. Of those households, 87% had a household
income equal to or less than 50% of their area’s median income.1 A breakdown by type of assistance suggests

that 53% of the households received money toward rental assistance, 55% toward rental arrears, 11% toward
utilities and 24% toward utility arrears.2 Assistance was directly provided either to the tenant or to the landlord
and utility companies providing services.

Lessons from Louisville
Reflecting on data made available by the Treasury, the graph below shows the cumulative share of dollars
disbursed by Louisville and Jefferson County, three additional local governments within the Eighth District, and
the national average. Although Louisville was allocated the highest amount of funding relative to the three other
localities, it was able to design a system to disburse the dollars more quickly.

Cumulative Percentage of ERA1 Dollars Deployed by Local Governments within
the Eighth District

SOURCE: Department of the Treasury and authors’ calculations.

How did Louisville design this system of rent relief? Here are some key lessons learned so far:
• Community-based organizations play a key role in implementing ERA fund distributions and in ensuring relief reaches those with
the greatest needs. For example, South Louisville Community Ministries oversees the rent application process for Louisville,
which is complicated and time-consuming for tenants. It also launched the website as a place to post the most
up-to-date information on resources for avoiding eviction.

• Collaboration among community-based organizations and state and local entities, along with frequent communication, is vital to
recognizing and overcoming barriers. In Louisville, both governmental and non-governmental stakeholders attended weekly
virtual meetings to discuss their goals and approaches to deploying ERA funds.
• Relevant information is not always available, so organizations need to be innovative. For example, many Louisville residents were
unaware of, or unable to attend, eviction hearings. A local volunteer visited the court to gather information about daily evictions
and communicated that information to others who could reach out to citizens being affected to inform them about their impending

In part two of this series, we will highlight more lessons from Louisville. We will also discuss ongoing
challenges to sustaining its efforts and potential solutions for preventing evictions.

Notes and References
1. Area median income is the household income of the middle household in a region, often calculated for every metropolitan area in
the country.
2. These percentages add up to greater than 100 because a household might receive multiple types of assistance.

About the Authors

Nishesh Chalise
Nishesh Chalise is the director of Community-Based Policy and Analysis within the Institute for
Economic Equity at the St. Louis Fed.

Gloria Noble
Gloria Noble is a community development intern at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Faith Weekly
Faith Weekly is a community development advisor, specializing in neighborhoods and housing,
within the Institute for Economic Equity at the St. Louis Fed.

Child Care Access and Affordability for Missouri’s Working
March 29, 2022
By Ana Hernández Kent
The COVID-19 recession has been labeled a “she-cession” because of its disproportionate impact on women.
But perhaps a more accurate—albeit less catchy—term would be “mom-cession.” Research from the Federal
Reserve Bank of Atlanta found that mothers of young children (under age 6) accounted for a disproportionate
share of COVID-19-related employment loss. Yet mothers continue to comprise a sizable portion of the
workforce. In Missouri, over a quarter of the prime-age workforce comprises mothers of minors, and 39% of
them are mothers of young children.
Access to quality, affordable child care supports mothers' ability to work, pay bills and stay housed; increases
Missouri’s tax revenue; and helps make Missouri a state in which the workforce, families and children can

Severe Lack of Access, Particularly for Younger Children
Child care is critically tied to workforce participation, particularly for mothers, who must often make trade-offs
between care and work. Mothers in the U.S. have much lower labor force participation rates when their children
are young (during both pandemic and non-pandemic times), whereas the age of the children has little effect on
fathers’ labor force participation. Notwithstanding, in Missouri, more than two-thirds of households with young
children have all parents who are present in the household in the labor force, indicating that the availability of
child care is important for the economy. Indeed, in the U.S., family responsibilities and the inability to arrange
child care were the top two reasons why mothers of young children who wanted jobs weren’t looking for them
in 2021.
Despite evidence that early childhood education is important for the current and future well-being of children,
families and the economy, that care is hard to find. More than half (54%) of Missourians live in a child care
desert, meaning they are in an area that has either no child care providers or so few options that there are more
than three times as many children as licensed child care slots. This is especially true of rural and low-income
areas, limiting opportunities for economic advancement for mothers and fathers in these locations. Moreover,
the vast majority of center-based providers do not operate between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m., making it that much more
difficult for parents of young children to accept jobs with long hours or shift work.
As a country, we fund our children’s education with free, universal public schooling beginning at kindergarten.

But preschool-age children, just one to two years younger, are underserved, with only 9% of 3- and 4-year-old
Missourians attending public preschool. Younger children face similar difficulties with access. The Office of
Head Start’s Performance Indicator Report states that Early Head Start programs, which serve children under
age 3 who are in poverty, reach only 7% of eligible Missourians. The National Institute for Early Education
Research found that while Missouri improved access to preschool programs in 2020, it still ranked in the
bottom half of states in terms of access and spending per child.

The ROI on Early Care and Education Investments
Investing in our most vulnerable citizens—young children, particularly those who are disadvantaged—is both
equitable and economically efficient. Research points out that the first few years of life, during which vast
amounts of learning occur, are the most critical, because children gain valuable social and cognitive skills.
Furthermore, socioeconomic and racial achievement gaps present in kindergarten begin with preparation gaps.
For example, a Springfield, Mo., Kindergarten Readiness Study found that “51.1% of students who did not
attend a formal preschool were reported as ‘not ready’ [for kindergarten] as compared to 17.8% of their
preschool-attending peers” in 2018.
Children from lower-income families have less access to high-quality early care and education, putting them at
a disadvantage early in life. In fact, market rates are unaffordable for most American families, meaning that
more than 7% of the family’s annual income is spent on child care, the federal standard for affordability. The
average cost of center-based infant child care in Missouri was $9,880 in 2020, according to Child Care Aware of
America. This was nearly 12% of the median income for a married family, but 40% of the median income of a
single parent. Even with subsidies (which reach one in six eligible families) and providers charging less than the
true cost of care, this expense remains burdensome, hampering economic stability and making economic
mobility all but impossible.
While early care and education are often treated as private concerns, research has shown that public returns
from quality early childhood development programs are even larger than personal returns: Research from the
Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, economist James Heckman and others suggests a $7 to $13 return per $1
invested. Potential future returns are large, but they could have more immediate effects as well through parents’
workforce participation. According to estimates from the Economic Policy Institute, capping child care at 7% of
income could expand Missouri’s economy by $2.8 billion. Moreover, returns on investment are larger the earlier
they are made. Yet, the U.S. spent 0.3% of gross domestic product in 2017—less than half the average of other
industrialized countries—on early care and education, according to a report by the Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development.

Investing in the Present and Future of Missouri
Missourians recognize the wide-ranging benefits of child care. For example, the Show Me Strong Recovery
Task Force 2022 recommendations include improving child care availability and affordability to help support
small businesses. Early childhood programs in Missouri were consolidated under a single Office of Childhood
in early 2021 to streamline agencies, with the recognition that these programs are important for children’s well-

being and success and for the future workforce.
Prioritizing quality child care today may facilitate the betterment of Missourians tomorrow. Researchers have
studied a number of considerations that may be implemented or expanded to support working mothers and their
families, including to:
• increase funding for quality early care and education programs,
• address benefit cliffs that hinder economic mobility,
• increase child care subsidy funds and access,
• expand access to play-based, public prekindergarten programs,
• offer child care at work and reimbursement for emergency child care,
• introduce flexible work schedules, and
• offer pretax benefit accounts for dependent care.

About the Author

Ana Hernández Kent
Ana Hernández Kent is a senior researcher with the Institute for Economic Equity at the Federal
Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Her research interests include economic disparities and the role of
systemic biases and historical factors in wealth outcomes. Read more about Ana’s research.

A North Star for Revitalizing North City
March 29, 2022
By Neelu Panth
Decades of disinvestment have exposed the residents of north
St. Louis, particularly in the North St. Louis City area, to
economic and environmental risks that have led to adverse
health effects, increased poverty and poor quality of life.1
Predominantly Black neighborhoods like Jeff Vander Lou,
Greater Ville and Wells Goodfellow are at even greater risk
due to a high concentration of vacant and abandoned
properties in these areas. However, grassroots initiatives to
bring investment to North City show promise in accelerating
revitalization in these communities.
Throughout the years, place-based community anchor
organizations have provided services and capital investments
to reverse the deep-rooted cycle of disinvestment in North

Above: Pastor Andre Alexander leading the
North Star Community Partners meeting at The
HUB facility in north St. Louis.

Creating a Pathway to Deepen Impact
in North City
Tabernacle Community Development Corp. (TCDC), located
in the Jeff Vander Lou neighborhood, has made significant
headway in mobilizing funders, institutional partners and
Pastor Andre Alexander (left) shaking hands with
policymakers to increase investment in North City. Created in
Mike Eggleston outside The HUB facility.
2014, the community development arm of The Tabernacle
church, led by pastor Andre Alexander, strives to eliminate
poverty and exclusion by improving social, educational and economic infrastructures. At the St. Louis Fed’s
Investment Connection event in 2018, Alexander, the founder and president of TCDC, pitched an affordable
rental housing development program for residents of the Jeff Vander Lou and Ville neighborhoods. The project
received $400,000 in loans from Gateway Community Development Fund Inc. through a partnership
spearheaded by Alexander and Jaycee Greene, Gateway’s loan director.2

Three years later, TCDC embarked on its next project—a $1.5 million renovation of the Farragut Branch
Elementary School—establishing The Hub, a facility dedicated to affordable housing and streamlined services.
Financing for the project came through a loan fund—in partnership with IFF (a Chicago-based community
development financial institution) and the St. Louis Development Corp.—and private donations. After a 15month renovation, the space now provides access to health care, legal and educational services for residents
through institutional partnerships. Most importantly, this resource center serves as the nexus for building
community collaboration and deploying pooled investment into North City.
“After pitching The Hub at the 2019 [Investment Connection] event and going through the networking rounds,
there was not much interest in this project among funders,” Alexander said. “I think it was hard for people to
grasp something like this could happen in north St. Louis.”

Identifying the North Star
The development and operationalization of The Hub places TCDC at the center of responsive community
development in North City. Other prominent North City anchor organizations—like Friendly Temple, Better
Family Life Inc., the Greater Ville Neighborhood Preservation Commission and the Center for the Acceleration
of African American Businesses—have joined forces with TCDC to leverage one another’s unique expertise to
galvanize additional investment in North City by establishing North Star Community Partners.
These organizations have a strong history of serving their communities. They have received accolades for their
cutting-edge services and capital investments that have resulted in positive outcomes for their clientele.
However, access to sustainable funding has been a challenge for these organizations as they seek to expand their
services and deepen community impact to make North City more economically vibrant. Alexander noted, “Most
organizations in North City struggle to make connections with the private donor base. We know St. Louis is a
very philanthropic town, but often those dollars fly over North City unless you are a part of a large
Eddie Davis of the Center for the Acceleration of African American Businesses, a North Star partner, notes,
“Historically, particularly in north St. Louis and among Black-led organizations, this is the first attempt to do
something at this scale in a collaborative manner.”
North Star Community Partners’ mission is the creation of an ecosystem that facilitates collaboration, increases
economic and social impact, and strengthens the capacity of organizations to support the growth and
sustainability of underserved neighborhoods throughout north St. Louis. Its long-term goal includes the
implementation of a comprehensive approach to establish the Martin Luther King Drive corridor, and its
surrounding neighborhoods, as a regional anchor for residential living and retail business and as a sector for
health, education, arts and entertainment. It is currently pursuing large-scale community and economic
development projects at the center as well as east and west sides of the Martin Luther King Drive corridor.
Partnership priorities include affordable housing, urban revitalization, workforce and business development, and
access to quality education.

Alignment for Sustained Growth

Currently, large-scale economic and workforce development projects—like the National Geospatial-Intelligence
Agency’s western headquarters and Centene Stadium for Major League Soccer—are underway within a few
miles of North City. North Star Community Partners sees an opportunity to serve as a connection point for
entities overseeing these large-scale projects and to deepen their relationship with the communities that these
projects impact. Ultimately, there is an opportunity to align the investments of these projects with the grassroots
expertise of place-based anchor organizations to affect sustained, ground-up economic growth.
To Alexander, this alignment is critical: “What happens in each neighborhood within St. Louis impacts the
whole region, because the stories and narratives about us are told together, not separately.”

Notes and References
1. See Environmental Racism in St. Louis, prepared by the Interdisciplinary Environmental Clinic at Washington University School
of Law, 2019.
2. This partnership between the two organizations was highlighted in our 2019 Open Vault blog post “Rebuilding Homes and
Restoring Hope in North St. Louis.”

About the Author

Neelu Panth
Neelu Panth is a senior community development advisor, specializing in the Community
Reinvestment Act (CRA), at the St. Louis Fed.