For the 8.8 million Americans who are overdue with their rent, a breakdown of what’s available, who qualifies and where to get help.
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, about 8.8 million Americans are overdue with their rent. Although the relief efforts averted part of the housing crisis, the rent has yet to be due.
The U.S. federal government has approved two rounds of rental assistance, totaling more than $ 46 billion, which are slowly making their way to renters.
In addition, the federal moratorium on evictions was extended to the end of June. But avoiding eviction does not cancel the rent due. Valuations vary, but the Urban Institute estimates that renters owe anywhere from $ 13.2 billion to $ 52.6 billion in arrears.
If you’re struggling, here’s what you should know about how to access this help:
Congress has approved two different rental aid packages. The first, approved in December, provided $ 25 billion for the rental. The second, approved in March, provides more than $ 21 billion.
In general, help can help pay the back rent, next month’s rent, and some bills. Renters can get a year or more of help getting trapped in back rent.
This is in addition to other locally available programs that can provide various forms of assistance. There have been some difficulties in accessing certain programs, but housing experts are hoping this latest round of federal rental aid-specific aid will help more people.
There is some flexibility for states to adapt the program, but in general, federal grant money is available for those who earn 80% or less of the median income in their area and have experienced some sort of related hardship. to COVID-19. Preference is given to those who have 50% or less of the median income for their area.
The application can be made by the needy family or by the owner on behalf of the family. Usually the money will be paid directly to the owners and utility service providers.
However, some landlords may not want to participate because it requires a certain amount of paperwork and some concessions, such as potentially agreeing not to raise the rent or evict the tenant for a period of time.
If an owner does not wish to participate, the funds can be paid directly to the eligible family.
Where to go
Renters who need help should contact their local housing authority to find out if they qualify for federal aid and any local help.
Federal rent money is sent to states, US territories, local governments, and tribes to administer through programs in their areas. However, it took some time for the money to reach these organizations.
National Low Income Housing Coalition President and CEO Diane Yentel said the money from the first round has been distributed and about 60 percent of communities have open programs, which are increasing every day. But the money for the second round won’t come out until May.
“Help is on the way,” Yentel said.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition tracks all rental assistance programs available on its website. Needy renters can start there to find a program in their area. They can also contact United Way or its 211 program for assistance. People can also speak to a real estate consultant with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and the Office of Consumer Financial Protection all have rental assistance information on their websites.
There is some concern that the demand for help may outstrip supply. So renters should act quickly or check often if a schedule isn’t readily available in their area. If renters don’t qualify for federal subsidies, they may be able to get help through other programs available in their area.
“The number one thing renters can do is make a plan,” said Susan Ifill, chief operating officer of the housing nonprofit NeighborWorks. “Access to these resources is one thing, but make a plan.”
This could include talking to a real estate consultant or working with the landlord to develop a plan to repay the rent or find new housing.
If anyone is concerned about being evicted, remember that the national moratorium on evictions is still in place until the end of June. Renters will need to complete the documents and deliver them to their owners.