The Covid 19 pandemic has caused a lot of financial strain for many people and a lot of renters are struggling to keep up with their monthly payments. The government put measures in place to protect people during this difficult time, like offering stimulus checks and grants. Evictions were also put on hold in most counties, giving people time to get their finances in order and start repaying their rent.
Federal housing assistance programs were set up to help those that were unable to make their monthly rent payments and this scheme has now been extended until October 3rd. In most cases, renters that are in financial trouble will qualify for this financial assistance, but it is important that you get the process started right away so you do not miss the deadline. This guide will outline all of the steps that you need to take to get federal housing assistance during the Covid 19 pandemic.
Provide CDC Declarations To Your Landlord
On August 3rd, 2021, the CDC announced another hold on evictions in any counties where coronavirus cases were rising quickly and the economy was disrupted in a significant way. In order to protect yourself from eviction, you need to provide a CDC declaration to your landlord. If you have already done this, it may still be valid but you should check because, in some cases, a new one is required. You can find out more about the eligibility requirements for CDC protection on this form, which needs to be filled out and sent to your landlord.
Submit A Rent Aid Application
The process for receiving grants to help with your rent varies from place to place. But regardless of where you are, you will need to submit a rent aid application of some kind and it’s important that you do this right away. In many states, like California, New York, Oregon, Nevada, Minnesota, and Massachusetts, you cannot be evicted while your application is being processed.
Before you are able to submit an application, you need to check that you are eligible for federal housing assistance. The Department of Treasury has set out general guidance about who qualifies for rent aid. There are three main criteria you must meet:
- You must be a low or middle-income household earning no more than 80% of the median income in your area.
- You must have lost money due to the Covid 19 pandemic and the economic downturn that it has caused.
- You only qualify if you have difficulty finding a more affordable place to live.
The most important thing is that you can demonstrate that you are facing financial hardship as a direct result of Covid 19 before you are awarded a grant. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have contracted the virus, but if you have lost work due to lockdowns and business closures or a family member has fallen ill and this is causing money issues, you are eligible. Specific places have their own eligibility criteria beyond these 3 things and many will prioritize certain people depending on how difficult their situation is. For example, elderly people will often be moved to the front of the queue.
Finding a local program
There are now over 450 federal housing assistance programs helping people with their rent. Ideally, you should find the one that is most local to you. You can find a full list of assistance programs and a simple lookup tool here. Use this tool to find the nearest program to your home and if you cannot find a local one, look at what is offered by the state.
If you are unsure, you can call 211 to ask for assistance or contact your local housing authority. Use this directory to find contact details for your local housing authority.
Gather relevant documents
Having all of the relevant documents to hand will make the application process much quicker and easier. You will be asked to prove your identity, address, and show evidence of financial hardship. Documents you will need include:
- Identification (driving license, passport etc.)
- Proof of income
- Social security number (depending on the program)
- Proof of residence (lease documents or utility bills)
- A letter from your landlord to show how much rent you owe
The more documents you can provide, the more likely you are to have your grant application approved.
Speak To Your Landlord
Once your rent aid application has been submitted, you should speak to your landlord. The new round of federal housing assistance allows money to be paid straight to the tenants instead of the landlord, so they do not necessarily need to agree to the program. However, things will be much easier if they are on board, so speak with them about it and inform them of your application.
Now all that’s left to do is wait for the application to be approved. Make sure that you keep copies of any documentation and screenshot any receipts so you have a record of your application. Also, check your emails and post regularly in case there is any missing documentation that is needed to move the application along. It can take weeks or months for the application to be approved, but as long as you have filed all of the right paperwork, you are protected from eviction while it is processed.