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How to apply for rent relief

  • How to apply for rent relief

    The eviction moratorium enacted as part of the federal CARES Act during the coronavirus pandemic expired on July 25, putting up to 23 million families who rent at risk of eviction by Sept. 30. Other elements of that stimulus bill, including additional funds for unemployment disbursements, have come to a close as the Senate and Congress grapple over a potential second stimulus bill in order to bring immediate relief to Americans who are out of work, underemployed, or who are under- or uninsured and facing unforeseen medical costs due to the pandemic.

    In the absence of a second stimulus bill, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order at the beginning of September halting evictions until the end of 2020. The CDC was able to issue such an order by explaining that "evictions threaten to increase the spread of COVID-19 as they force people to move, often into close quarters." Renters who earn less than $99,000 a year, or who received a stimulus check provided by the CARES Act, qualify for this protection. To obtain relief, renters must sign a declaration stating that they cannot afford to pay their rent in full and that, if evicted, they would become homeless or would need to move into congregate housing.

    Stacker scoured the websites of charities, government offices, and a variety of federal, regional, state, and local organizations to find out what options are available for Americans in need of rent relief. Some websites, like Need Help Paying Bills, have done much of the legwork of aggregating resources; and many states from California to Pennsylvania have created special programs during the pandemic to help their residents with rent.

    When faced with eviction, many people don’t know whom to turn to or what to do first. The forthcoming gallery will walk you through the people to call, the free legal advice available, and a number of loans, grants, and referrals that can help you get back on your feet.

    Keep reading to figure out how to apply for rent relief and what programs are out there.

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  • #1. Start by contacting your landlord

    First things first: Reach out to your landlord. The National Apartment Association (NAA) cites this as an essential first step to figuring out solution. Oftentimes—and especially during COVID-19—many landlords are willing to work out a deferred rental arrangement until you get back on your feet.

  • #2. Get some free legal advice

    A lawyer can take a look at your lease and provide sound legal advice for charting a path forward. Legal Services Corporation, established in 1974 by Congress 1974 to offer financial support for civil legal aid to American households with annual incomes at or below 125% of the federal poverty guidelines.

  • #3. Get the 211

    The United Way-sponsored website 211.org offers assistance to people all over the country; just plug in your zip code and get connected with resources in your region, from rent assistance and home repair to supportive housing options and fair-market housing options.

  • #4. Read up on what’s available in your state

    Many states temporarily paused evictions during the pandemic; however, those moratoriums were virtually all set to expire on various dates in June, July, and August. Google the name of your state with “rent relief” in order to find specific programs available there that can help pay rent, storage fees, security deposits, and the like. Need Help Paying Bills also has an aggregated list of resources by state.

  • #5. Begin contacting your state programs directly

    Once you’ve narrowed your search to rent-relief opportunities in your state, reach out to each resource directly. In Pennsylvania, for example, renters who have suffered economic losses during the pandemic can apply for CARES financial assistance.

  • #6. Look into nearby charities that can help with rent

    Area charities can supply referrals, social services, cash loans, case management, and—at the very least—information on local grants that may be able to help with rent.

  • #7. Find a Mutual Aid group near you

    Mutual aid groups, run by local volunteers seeking to create services and resources for mutual community benefit, can offer advice and resources. There are mutual aid locations in almost all states, often at multiple locations.

  • #8. Get a referral

    Any agency without supportive help available can provide a referral even if you’re not affiliated with the group or a member. A popular national option for referrals is United Way’s 211.

  • #9. Familiarize yourself with the CARES Rent Relief Program

    The CARES Act allocated $17.4 billion to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that included cash for rent help, public housing, housing vouchers, and elderly housing. Each state’s program differs slightly so be sure to look up what is available to you where you live.

  • #10. Contact your local church

    Many area houses of worship are expanding their assistance for emergency needs like rent. Need Help Paying Bills has a state-by-state breakdown of churches that have help available.

     

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