Approximately 8 million families spent fifty percent of their incomes on utilities and rent before the Covid-19 pandemic. Over the past few months, the pandemic’s economic crisis has intensified the situation. As a result, forty percent of American households are grappling with the loss of wages.
Rental assistance is critical to address housing cost burdens and preserve housing stability. Therefore, rental assistance programs are pivotal to keeping citizens housed. As unemployment benefits gradually expire, the situation demands action.
What Are Rental Assistance Programs?
Local and state programs are issuing billions in rental assistance to aid tenants to stay housed amid the pandemic. These programs aim to assist tenants and landlords to stay afloat as the economic fallout persists. If you are a tenant struggling with your rent payments and utility bills, help is available. In addition, if you are a landlord trying to make ends meet, help is available.
Local, State And Federal Programs
Local, state, and federal programs are receiving applications daily from landlords and tenants. They disburse funds from the emergency rental assistance (ERA) program. Many think that these programs only target renters, but they also accommodate landlords. We commonly know it as the CARES Act. The primary funding under the CARES Act at the disposal of ERA is:
Community Development Block Grants (CDBG-CV): offers ERA up to six months
Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF): emergency rental fund in response to Covid-related wage and job losses
Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG-CV): for homelessness response specifically by preventing eviction
CDC Eviction Moratorium: provides a stopgap measure to ensure they stable house tenants
What Are The Eligibility Criteria?
Eligibility for housing assistance programs is subject to family income. Additionally, immigration status and citizenship are needed. However, although a family may be eligible, help is not guaranteed. Because of funding limits, these programs only serve a fraction of the population.
The basis of income eligibility is on median income. These income limits include low-income families with income levels below eighty percent of the median income. In addition, those whose income falls below fifty percent and thirty percent of the median income can apply. Remember that median income varies by state. Check your local resources to determine if you qualify.
Who Qualifies For Assistance?
Those that qualify for assistance are US citizens and those with Green Card. However, a household can qualify for prorated aid when it is a mixed family. Some programs only serve special populations. For instance, the 202 program targets elderly families. Section 811 serves persons with disabilities. Also, under Section 8 HVC, some vouchers are for homeless veterans and children’s welfare systems.
Renters Can Apply
As a renter, you are eligible for aid when you meet the following requirements:
You are housed in a rental unit within the community covered by the program
At least one member of any household is eligible for an unemployment benefit.
Income reduction, or financial hardship related to the pandemic.
If you have received past due utility, rent, or eviction notice or facing household instability
Household income is below eighty percent of the median income for the area
Landlords Can Apply
Landlords can also apply. They must meet the following conditions:
Forfeit all penalties, court costs, and interest related to renting incurred from April 2020.
The program covers up to one hundred dollars monthly as late fees. Landlords will forfeit late fees, surpassing the one-hundred-dollar threshold.
No eviction of renters for past due rent before the pandemic and sixty days after the program. “For cause” evictions permitted.
For-cause evictions exclude ‘owner wants possession and rent non-payment. Lease non-renewal excluded. Evictions for violation of health and safety also permitted. Also included are lease violations and peaceful use of the property.
How Do I Apply For ERA?
First, confirm that your household meets the eligibility criteria above. After that, compile your documents using the application checklist. Renters need to inform their landlords of their intention to seek funding. Your landlord will have to complete a section on the application. This will speed processing time. Information sharing between the two parties is critical to the approval of your application. With this information, visit your State or local government’s application portal to register and create a profile. A helpful website to get you started is home.treasury.gov.
Registration, Forms And Documents
After registration, fill out the forms and upload the documents required to support your claims. Make sure you have all income related statements on hand. Next, submit your present contact information, including your phone number and email address. Once your application rates 100% complete, it will prompt you to submit. Both the renter and the landlord will receive an email confirmation. If further information is needed, they will ask you for it at this time. They assign the applications to case managers for review.
Case Managers Will Reach Out
Case managers will reach out to landlords and tenants through the application portal to collect any additional information. Email confirmation upon approval. The amount remitted to your landlord will be indicated. Landlords will receive rental assistance in favor of the tenant in a check or via an electronic cash transfer. Subsequently, utility payments are directed to utility providers in favor of the applicant.
What Does ERA Cover?
A household may collect up to twelve months of payments in rent arrears accrued after March 13th, 2020. Moreover, they also qualify for three months of additional help when the household spends more than thirty percent of its income on rent. In addition, they may receive up to twelve months of utility help. They channel directly these payments to the landlord and the utility providers in favor of the tenants.
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