What's Happening? - Rental and Utility Assistance Explained

Posted By: James Toy Advocacy News ,

Source of Funds

Through their Emergency Rental Assistance Program, the U.S. Treasury has made $25 billion available to assist households that are unable to pay their rent and utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These funds are provided directly to states and local governments with more than 200,000 residents. For a list of eligible local governments, which includes a county, municipality, town, township, village, parish, borough, or other unit of general government below the state level with a population that exceeds 200,000, please click here.

Eligibility

An “eligible household” is defined as a renter household in which at least one or more individuals meets the following criteria:

  1. The applicant qualifies for unemployment or has experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19.
  2. The applicant demonstrates a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability.
  3. The applicant has a household income at or below 80 percent of the area median.

In addition, a renter household must comply with local requirements, which are available on your respective city or county website.

Available Assistance

Eligible households may receive up to twelve months of assistance, plus an additional three months if the grantee determines the extra months are needed to ensure housing stability and grantee funds are available.  The payment of existing housing-related arrears that could result in eviction of an eligible household is prioritized. Assistance must be provided to reduce an eligible household’s rental arrears before the household may receive assistance for future rent payments. Once a household’s rental arrears are reduced, grantees may only commit to providing future assistance for up to three months at a time. Households may reapply for additional assistance at the end of the three-month period if needed and the overall time limit for assistance is not exceeded.

Application Process

An application for rental assistance may be submitted by either an eligible household or by a landlord on behalf of that eligible household.  Households and landlords must apply through programs established by grantees.  In general, funds will be paid directly to landlords and utility service providers. If a landlord does not wish to participate, funds may be paid directly to the eligible household. 

Please Note: The U.S. Treasury cannot process applications from households and landlords. Applications are to be directed to your local relief program.

Local Requirements

Navigating local eligibility requirements can be a daunting task for residents and landlords. To make this process easier for our members, the Florida Apartment Association will be releasing a rent/utility relief program tracker that outlines the requirements for your area. Please monitor your email for updates on this project.