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How to get help with rental assistance?

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Asked by Anne

March 22, 2022 under Others

To know how to pay your rent when you don’t have money, read on.

Answered by Staff Writer

March 22, 2022

Has the coronavirus pandemic taken away your job? Is the thought of paying house rent taking away your sleep at night?

When the states tried to reduce the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic by announcing a lockdown or stay-home orders, paying rents became more difficult. Though the lockdown was lifted after a certain time, still the monetary impact it created remained as it is. This was when the renters wondered what assistance they could get to pay their rent.

Multiple programs offer rental assistance for those who can't afford to pay their rent. Most of these services were active when Covid-19 and lockdowns were at their peak. Currently, not all programs are active, either they are about to expire or have expired already.

How to get rental assistance?

Both the local and federal governments are aiding with housing expenditure as well as in avoiding displacement. If you are facing a tough time paying your rent, consider the steps given below.

Search for emergency rental and assistance

Don’t worry, you aren’t the only person who is not able to pay rent. The Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERA) was designed to cover your housing expenses and find stable accommodation at the time of the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • You may need to find a rental insurance program in your locality.
  • Explore a few frequently asked questions to gain knowledge of its eligibility and the money coverage you will get.

Discuss repayment agreement with your landlord

Apart from applying for emergency rental assistance you may need to initiate a discussion with the landlord. You should tell the landlord about your problems in paying the full rent for the past few months or if you are not able to clear your due rent.

Emergency Rental Assistance Coverage (ERA)

  • The ERA will assist the local programs in covering the rent, utilities, and home energy expenses. Gas, electricity, trash removal, and sewers are part of such utility services. These would be considered as rent if your landlord pays for both your home energy as well as utility services.
  • You may have to pay legitimate late fees if that is not included in your utility or rental debt.
  • The Internet service bill of your home would also be covered in the ERA program.
  • Moving costs or rental expenses like that of a security deposit, screening, or application fees would be applicable for families who might need to make a move.

There are a few programs that may assist you in case management, housing counseling, legal representation, or other housing stability provisions.

How do I qualify for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program?

To show that you are eligible for ERA, you must prove that your income qualifies for the same and you are witnessing housing instability. Also, a property owner can qualify for the same, if he can demonstrate that his tenant’s household is unstable and requires assistance. You need to sign a document stating that the statement provided by you is accurate as well as complete and you will use the ERA to cover these expenses.

  • To be eligible for rental assistance you must have a rental contract for your home. Your home could be an apartment, mobile home, house, or others.
  • At least one family member should be unemployed, lose their income, experience hardships, or be owed huge expenses.

3 Rental Assistance Programs

  1. Non-Profit Organizations - Several non-profit organizations across the country are committed to assisting people with rent payments and other household bills. However, it would be complicated to maneuver various alternatives.
    • You can start with the Community Action Agency, United Way, or Legal Aid Society.
    • Mark the organizations that are available in your area and serve your requirements.
    • As you find a program, you can apply for it, but these organizations will play a critical role in handling the process.
  2. Government and Housing Authorities - Many cities and states provide rental assistance programs to those who need them. On a few occasions, such programs are promoted either partially or completely by the Housing and Urban Development department of the US. On other occasions, they are financed completely by the city or state that is offering them the same.
    • Tenants who are experiencing trouble in paying their rent can gain support from government and housing authorities. These programs can be your support system even if it is for the short term.
    • Vouchers would be provided to the tenants that they can use to pay their rent. The amount and validity of the voucher would depend on the needs of the tenants.
    • You can start with state social service companies to obtain funds to pay their rent. Also, you should have a detailed knowledge of the program as well as resources that exist in localities.
  3. Faith-Based Organizations - Most of the charitable organizations which help with rental assistance are faith-based companies. Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, and St Vincent de Paul are a few such faith-driven organizations.
    • Many faith-based organizations offer funds themselves, while there are a few which will guide you to the right sources for rental assistance.
    • Local religious organizations like a synagogue or a church may provide you with assistance in some or the other way.
    • Though funds are not received by the federal government either partially or completely like in other rental assistance programs, a faith-based organization is beneficial for short-term assistance.

Seek the right assistance

Don’t hesitate to ask for rental assistance. The competition is extremely high due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, so you need to approach as many rental assistance programs as possible you can. Also, while you are pursuing an option, you can still seek help from other sources like personal loans or crowdfunding.

A rental assistance program will only give you short-term support. We recommend you talk about your hardships with the landlord. If the landlord doesn’t listen to you or you can't pay rent even after modifying the rental plan, you should consider finding a different accommodation for yourself. Alternatively, you can choose to live with a relative or a friend until you stand back on your feet.

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