What You Need to Know About Renter’s Assistance in 2021

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COVID-19 and the lockdowns that followed have resulted in millions of Americans losing their incomes. They have lost jobs, businesses and self-employment contracts, which has led to great economic instability in some households.

Landlords have not been able to evacuate people since March 2020, which meant that they also lost rental income. To ensure that people can continue to pay their rent regardless of their income situation, the US Treasury Department launched the Emergency Rental Assistance Program on January 5, 2021.

What is the Emergency Relief Program and how can it help both tenants and landlords prevent homelessness and eviction?

History of COVID-19 Aid in the United States

On March 21, 2020, then-President Donald Trump signed the CARES law. This bill launched one of the largest stimulus packages in US history and provided a tremendous amount of aid to prevent a complete economic crash. Federal student loan payments have been postponed, unemployment benefits increased, bailouts have been provided to small businesses to keep workers on their payroll, and evictions and foreclosures have been temporarily suspended.

The provisions of the CARES Act have since been expanded to include laws that came into force in August and December. On December 27, 2021, the law on consolidated funds was signed and contained the provisions for the emergency aid program.

What is the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)?

The Emergency Rental Assistance Program is a $ 25 billion provision designed to help tenants pay their rent and increase income for landlords that non-paying renters cannot evict. Applications can be made and submitted by either an Eligible Household or by a Landlord who is filing an application on behalf of an Eligible Household that rents its property.

That $ 25 billion was split between the 50 states, Native American tribal communities, the District of Columbia, and the following US territories: American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.

Who Qualifies for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program?

To qualify for the program, you must be an Eligible Household or a landlord applying for an Eligible Household. To be classified as an eligible household, a household must:

  • Rent their primary residence
  • Qualify for unemployment OR have experienced a decline in household income, significant expenses, or other financial difficulties due to the pandemic.
  • Risk of homelessness or residential instability; and
  • Do you have a household income => 80% of the media income of the area from which you are applying.

ERAP provisions may not be provided in addition to other federal rental aids.

One of the following approaches can be used to determine household income:

  • You can take your total income in 2020 or
  • You can draw your monthly income at the time of application

If you want to determine your income based on monthly income, your eligibility must be checked every 3 months. How it’s done is up to the recipient, who will assist you.

Tenant households are not eligible if they receive a monthly federal grant, e.g. B. a Housing Choice Voucher, a public housing or a project-related rent support, AND the rent charged to the tenant is adjusted based on income.

What can I get from the Emergency Relief Program?

If you are an eligible household you can get up to 12 months of assistance, plus 3 months of additional assistance if your local government determines that you need additional assistance to prevent homelessness. This only applies if the funds are available.

You can get support for the following expenses:

  • Rent charged by the landlord
  • Utilities (electricity, gas, water and sewage, garbage disposal and additional energy costs)
  • Other home-related expenses

Telecommunications such as telephone and internet can NOT be paid for by the ERAP.

You can get assistance to settle outstanding rent arrears that would otherwise result in an eviction. This measure is intended to help landlords to make up for lost income. Means for this purpose are to be prioritized. However, this only applies to rent arrears that arose after March 13, 2020.

The amount of support you will receive will depend on several factors. The first factor is the beneficiary who will provide the funds. The second factor is how much you will need to cover your rent and utilities.

Support is only available while funding is available. Priority will be given to tenants affected by impending homelessness and those who are ready to evacuate when they cannot meet their rental payments.

How do I apply for rental support?

To apply for this program, you need to contact your local government to find out who to speak to. Unfortunately, not all states have accepted aid, and aid may arrive later than expected.

For now, the best place to find out if you can get assistance from the ERAP is to visit the United Way 211 website at https://211.org. They are the best resource available right now for finding out what help is available to you.

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What you need to know about helping the tenant in 2021

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What is the Emergency Relief Program and how can it help both tenants and landlords prevent homelessness and eviction?

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Jason M. Kaplan, Esq.

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The credit professionals

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What You Need to Know About Renter’s Assistance in 2021

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