The tenant approved relief of $ 5,000. How to apply for rental assistance
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After Janell Ivy lost her daycare job due to the pandemic, she fell behind on her rent by $ 890.
The single mother feared that she and her four children, all under the age of 7, would be evicted from their apartment in Houston. She packed her children’s toys and clothes in preparation, though she didn’t know where they would go.
But after a terrible year, Ivy recently received some good news: she was approved for over $ 5,000 by the Houston-Harris County Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
“I completely unpacked and it’s wonderful to know my kids and I have a roof over our heads,” said Ivy, 33.
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There are now over 380 programs across the country providing cash to tenants who have fallen behind due to the public health crisis. The funds total more than $ 45 billion and have been allocated by Congress in the last two major stimulus packages.
More than 10 million Americans, or 14% of American renters, say they are not caught up with their housing payments, according to to a recent Center analysis on budget and policy priorities.
“Renters have been really hit hard by the pandemic,” said André Aurand, vice president of research at the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “The need is unprecedented.
Are you trying to ask for help? Here’s what you need to know.
To be entitled to the money, at least one member of your household must be entitled to unemployment benefits or certify in writing that they have lost income or incurred significant expenses due to the pandemic. You will also need to demonstrate a risk of homelessness, which may include an overdue rent or a utility notice.
Additionally, your income level for 2020 cannot exceed 80% of your region’s median income, although states have been asked to prioritize applicants who fall to 50% or less, as well as those who have been unemployed for 90%. days. or more.
Some state and local programs have set additional priorities, and you might want to research them.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition has a state-by-state list of the 388 programs giving money to tenants in difficulty.
How much could I get?
You could receive up to 18 months of assistance, including a combination of past and future rent payments.
If you’ve already been approved for lease funds but continue to be late, you can usually reapply as long as you request relief for a different period. The money usually goes to your landlord, unless they refuse to comply (more details below).
To begin, you’re not alone.
Housing advocates report a number of issues with the deployment of aid, particularly around some arduous application processes.
The local program application was 45 pages long, Aurand said. Another asks tenants to document their income for the past six months.
Meanwhile, demand was so high in Alaska that its state fund is already putting people on waiting lists.
If you’re unable to meet a documentation requirement for an application for a program or if you’re denied a certain fund, look for other rental assistance resources in your area, experts say.
It may also be helpful to contact the organization and explain why you cannot submit a certain form. The most recent Treasury Department guidelines encourage programs to take people at their word.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if a social worker could work with the tenant,” Aurand said.
Another problem is that some landlords refuse to accept the money from the programs because they do not want to agree to the terms, which may include a ban on evicting that tenant or increasing their rent for a period of time.
Are you having this problem?
Experts recommend that you ask the program if you can receive the funds directly. Some programs are now required to offer this option if they can’t get your landlord’s cooperation, Aurand said.
I’m afraid of deportation. What should I do?
Beyond asking for rental assistance as soon as possible, familiarize yourself with your rights. These will vary by state.
Despite recent legal challenges to the national deportation ban, the law remains in force for now and probably until the end of June. To obtain this protection, you will have to certify on a declaration form that you meet a few conditions, such as having earned less than $ 99,000 in 2020 or 2021.
Most states have already lifted their deportation bans, but some are still in place. (These policies have nothing to do with the federal moratorium.)
For example, new York extended its moratorium on evictions until September for tenants who have suffered a Covid-related setback or for whom a move could pose a health risk. To qualify, tenants must submit a form of difficulty to their owner.
And New Jersey won’t allow evictions until two months after its state of emergency is lifted, which is expected to happen in mid-June, meaning most tenants will likely be safe until at least in august.
Although Oregon’s eviction ban expires at the end of the month with the CDC, tenants cannot be evicted for rent due between April 2020 and June 2021, and they have until the end of February 2022 to make these payments.
Another way for tenants to be safe from eviction is to receive rent assistance from the $ 45 billion in federal funds.
In at least 28 states, the programs that disburse these funds prohibit landlords from evicting tenants for at least the period for which they received assistance, and in some cases between 30 and 90 days afterwards, according to in Aurand.
Find out about your rights to any program for which you have received rental assistance.
If your landlord has moved to evict you, try to find a lawyer. You can find free or low cost legal aid with a deportation in your state at Lawhelp.org.
Are you at risk of being deported? If you are ready to share your story for a future article, please email me at [email protected]