The rollout of Congress’s $45 billion in government rental aid has been delayed and bumpy, but more households are beginning to benefit.
According to new numbers issued by the U.S. Treasury Department on Wednesday, 290,000 households received assistance in June, up from 160,000 in May and 100,000 in April.
Nonetheless, according to a recent analysis by The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, more than 11 million Americans, or 16% of U.S. renters, are behind on their housing payments.
And, with the national eviction prohibition set to expire on July 31, campaigners are concerned that many tenants will not be able to stay in their houses in time.
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Covid frauds cost the United States over $500 million.
According to government data, approximately $3 billion had reached people by the end of June.
“Even with the improvements, emergency rental assistance has still reached a small percentage of the families who report being behind on rent and facing eviction when the moratorium expires next week,” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
It is strongly advised that struggling renters request assistance as soon as possible.
Here’s what you need to know about receiving assistance.
How do I go about applying?
The National Low Income Housing Coalition maintains a state-by-state list of the 469 federally funded programs.
Who is eligible?
To be eligible for financing, at least one member of your household must be unemployed or swear in writing that they have lost income or incurred significant expenses due to the pandemic. You’ll also need to show that you’re at risk of being homeless, which could include a past-due rent or utility notice.
Furthermore, your income level for 2020 cannot exceed 80% of your area’s median income, though states have been advised to prioritize applicants with 50% or less, as well as those who have been out of work for 90 days or longer.
Some state and municipal programs have established different goals, which you should look into.
One California fund, for example, is focusing on Native American homes. Another state, Oklahoma, is distributing the funds first to those over 62.
How much could I possibly get?
You could receive up to 18 months of help, including a mix of back and future rent payments.
If you’ve already been accepted for rental funds but are still behind, you can usually reapply as long as you’re requesting relief for a different period. Then, unless your landlord refuses to comply, the money is normally given to you (more on that below).
I’m having difficulty obtaining support. Why?
To begin with, you are not alone.
Housing advocates object to various issues with the program’s implementation, including several time-consuming application processes.
According to Andrew Aurand, vice president of research at the National Low Income Housing Coalition, one application was 45 pages lengthy. Another requirement was for renters to provide proof of their salary for the previous six months.
“Public officials are more concerned about so-called scammers getting this money than they are about people who need it,” said Dan Rose, an assistant professor of sociology at Winston-Salem State University and Housing Justice Now activist.
If you cannot meet documentation criteria for one program’s application or are denied from a specific fund, experts advise you to explore other rental aid services in your area.
It may also be worthwhile to contact the organization and explain why you cannot create a specific form. The Treasury Department’s most recent guidance urges programs to take people at their word.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if a caseworker could assist the tenant,” said Aurand.
Another concern is that some landlords refuse to accept money from the programs because they do not wish to agree to the terms, including a prohibition on evicting the tenant or raising their rent for a set period.