Federal funds earmarked for emergency rental assistance have been disbursed at a rapid clip in recent months, with about $30 billion of the $46.6 billion program being sent out in February alone. That leaves roughly $15 billion still available.
If you want to apply for the assistance — which was included in stimulus packages passed by Congress in December 2020 and March 2021 — you might want to get a move on. Last month the U.S. Treasury Department said the funds will likely be exhausted by mid-2022.
The money is available to financially strapped renters who owe back rent and face the threat of eviction. To be eligible, at least one member of your household must qualify for unemployment benefits or attest in writing that they’ve lost income or incurred significant expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CNBC reported. You must also demonstrate that you are at risk of homelessness, which might include a past-due rent or utility notice.
In most cases, your income can’t exceed 80% of your area’s median income to be eligible for emergency rental assistance. However, some states have been directed to prioritize applicants who fall at 50% or lower, along with those who’ve been out of work for 90 days or longer.
Although the emergency rental assistance program is administered by the federal government, funds are disbursed at the state and local level.
To apply, visit the National Low Income Housing Coalition website, which provides a state-by-state list of hundreds of organizations that disburse the funds to eligible applicants. You’ll be given links that can take you through the application process in your area. Another option is to use the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s online tool to help you apply for assistance.
Those who qualify typically receive between 12 months and 18 months of rental assistance, including a mix of payments for back and future housing payments. If you’ve already received rental assistance but have fallen behind on your rent again, you can apply again as long as you’re requesting coverage for a different period of time.
The money typically goes to your landlord. However, if your landlord refuses to comply, contact the agency you applied with to see if the funds can be sent directly to you.
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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Stimulus Update: $15 Billion For Emergency Rental Assistance is Available – Here’s How to Apply