Congress approves $ 25 billion in rental help. How you can apply
In the stimulus package signed last month, the national eviction ban was extended to January and a $ 25 billion pot set up for tenants struggling with the health and economic crisis.
This money will help keep many of the 14 million Americans who lag behind their rents in their homes during the coldest months of the year and during a pandemic. Still, housing advocates say more money is needed. By one estimate, rent arrears in the US could be closer to $ 70 billion after 10 months of record job losses and downtime.
“While this is a critical start, these regulations will not end the eviction crisis or help all tenants in dire need of rental assistance to keep their families safe from harm,” said Emily Benfer, a visiting law professor at Wake Forest University.
Now that the Democrats are in control of Congress, extra aid to tenants has a better chance of making a reality. The Democrats had demanded $ 100 billion in housing benefits and a twelve-month eviction moratorium in May, but ultimately scaled back their demands in negotiations with Republicans.
Right now, here’s what you need to know about how to access the $ 25 billion fund.
Am i eligible?
To qualify for assistance, at least one member of your household must be eligible for unemployment benefit or have written confirmation that they have lost income or incurred significant costs due to the pandemic.
You’ll also need to provide evidence of risk of homelessness, including an overdue rent or a notice to utilities.
Additionally, your 2020 income level cannot exceed 80% of your area’s median income, despite directing states to prioritize applicants with a decline of 50% or less and applicants who have been unemployed for 90 days or more.
Are the funds available now?
States will have the funds by January 20th.
How do I apply?
“Where or how you apply varies from city to city,” said Benfer.
Rent assistance funds are already in place in many areas, and one of these funds is where you apply for the new assistance. In other cases, new programs will be created to cash out the money, Benfer said.
“Renters should contact local housing associations, their agents or the local 211/311 lines to identify programs and how to apply,” she added.
Your landlord can apply for you as well, but must get your signature and provide you with a copy of the application.
How much could i get
Renters can get help with up to 12 months of rent back and utility bills, and possibly an additional three months of support if money is still available. In some cases, you may be able to get funding to cover future rent payments, but only if you plan to pay off the debt first.
The money is paid directly to your landlord or utility company.
I’m about to be evicted. What should I do?
Apply for the money right away.
Also understand your rights. Most tenants should be allowed to stay in their homes at least until the end of January, as an order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was announced in September making eviction illegal for non-payment.
To ensure this protection, you have to confirm on a declaration form that you meet certain requirements, e.g. B. Expecting to earn less than $ 99,000 in the 2020-2021 calendar year.
“If a tenant cannot pay the rent, he should show the statement to his owner as soon as possible,” said Benfer.
In addition to the CDC ban, some states have issued their own evacuation protection. Find out about the protective measures that apply to you.
If your landlord ignores any of these rules, as some do, get an attorney. At Lawhelp.org, you can find inexpensive or free legal assistance with an eviction in your state.
A New Orleans study found that more than 65% of renters were evicted without legal representation, compared with less than 15% of those who had a lawyer in court.
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