COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program

The Emergency Rental Assistance Program in the Continued Assistance Act makes available $25 billion to assistant households that are unable to pay rent and utilities because of COVID-19.  Payments will be made directly to states, U.S. Territories, local governments with more than 200,000 residents, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, and Indian Tribes.  Not less than 90 percent of awarded funds must be used for direct financial assistance.  The remaining funds are available for housing stability services.

An eligible household is a renter household in which at lease one or more individuals 1) qualify for unemployment or has experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced financial hardship because or COVID-19, 2) demonstrates a risk of homelessness or housing instability, or 3) has a household income at or below 80 percent of the area median.

Eligible households that include an individual who has been unemployed for 90 days, and households with income at or below 50 percent of the area median are to be prioritized.

Eligible households may receive up to 12 months of assistance, plus an additional 3 months if the grantee determines the extra months are needed to ensure housing stability and grantee funds are available.

Payment of existing housing-related arrears that could result in eviction of an eligible household is prioritized.  Assistance must be provided to reduce an eligible household’s rental arrears before the household may receive assistance for future rent payments.  Once a household’s rental arrears are reduced, future assistance can be provided for only three months at a time.  Households can reapply for additional assistance at the end of the three-month period if needed and the overall time limit for assistance is not exceeded.

An application for rental assistance can be submitted to the grantee by either an eligible household or be a landlord on behalf of the household.  Funds will be paid directly to the landlords and utility service providers.  If a landlord does not want to participate, funds may be paid directly to the eligible household.  (Emergency Rental Assistance Program, United States Department of the Treasury.)