Six months ago Congress allocated more than $45 billion to the renters’ crisis which was triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic. Most of that money is still available today, in fact, only about a fifth of it has been used so far.
According to data from the US Department of Treasury, $10 billion of the funding reached households by the end of last month, meaning there’s still around $35 billion in aid unspent and ready to be used.
Around 12 million adults are currently behind on their rent payments, according to a recent report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. One analysis over the summer found that the average American renter owed about $3,700, and in some areas rental debts were topping $10,000 per household.
“There’s certainly remaining need in most states and cities. However, efforts to disburse the money have been challenged by a lack of awareness and cumbersome applications. Still, renters should not give up on getting the help.” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
Just applying for renters aid can help you stay in your home longer. In at least five states individuals who apply for assistance are entitled to some level of protection from being pushed out of their homes.
For renters who don’t know how to apply, The National Low Income Housing Coalition has a state-by-state list of more than 500 organizations that are currently giving out federal money. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also has a new online tool to help renters easily apply for the aid.
To be eligible for the aid at least one member of your household has to qualify for unemployment benefits or attest in writing that they’ve lost income or incurred significant expenses due to the pandemic.
There also needs to be a demonstrated risk of homelessness, which may include a past-due rent or utility notice.
Additionally, your income level for 2020 can’t exceed 80% of your area’s median income, although some state’s have prioritized applicants who fall at 50% or lower, as well as those who have been unemployed for more than 90 days.
You could potentially receive up to 18 months of assistance. If you’ve already been approved for rental funds but continue to be behind, you can reapply. If you are at risk of being evicted you can find low-cost or free legal help with an eviction in your state at Lawhelp.org.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.