The Rental Assistance Maze by Elaine Simpson

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

On September 1st, 2020 the CDC issued a temporary halt in residential evictions to prevent the further spread of Covid-19.  The order imposed a temporary national moratorium on most evictions for non-payment of rent to help prevent the spread of the virus. The average person spends more than thirty percent of their income on housing and lives paycheck to paycheck with little to no savings.  That is one of the reasons why the eviction moratorium was extended.  The order applies to all standard rental housing including mobile homes.  It does not cover hotels, motels or other guest home rentals.  A complete list of qualifications can be found at the National Low Income Housing Coalition website:  https://www.nlihc.org.

The National Apartment Association recently published an article in Units Magazine called “Finding Rent Relief”.  The article features a nonprofit organization founded in 2020 by a Los Angeles based real estate firm set up to assist residents facing eviction for the first time.  It is called the Resident Relief Foundation or RRF.  Over a twelve-month period the foundation raised over ninety thousand dollars that provided forty-one grants.  Their next goal is to raise two hundred thousand dollars to assist one hundred more families and individuals across the nation.  Aid can be up to a month or two of rent paid to the property.  They provide a “prevention model” offering assistance to those people identified by participating property management companies as potential recipients hopefully BEFORE the situation becomes unmanageable.  Budgeting classes and credit counseling are also offered.  The RRF hopes to build support from property management professionals across the country.  Link to RRF is https://www.residentrelieffoundation.org.

Our state and local apartment associations have been hard at work promoting resources that are helpful to both property owners and renters.  Many apartment associations are beginning to partner with the Resident Relief Foundation and similar organizations.  With the allocation of Federal funds, new Community Action Programs are being established to support renters and owners/managers.  There are also crisis assistance programs and utility assistance programs.

Eligibility criteria varies from entity to entity but the funds are always intended for those most in need.  According to Federal guidelines, applicants for assistance for Federal funds are prioritized using the following criteria:

            Households living at or below 50% of AMI (Area Median Income);

Households with a household member that has been unemployed for the past 90 days AND household is at or below 80% of AMI.

The U S Department of the Treasury’s Emergency Rental Assistance program revised their list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) in late February of 2021.  It is a great resource to use as guidance for the ERA program requirements.  It explains who is eligible for assistance, gives the definition of income, lists the methods to determine income and the documents to use.  For example, it makes reference to the published HUD database so we can look up what the Area Median Income figure is for our specific individual areas.  Use this link:  https://www.huduser.gov/portal/datasets/il.html.  To obtain the Fair Market Rent or Small Area Fair Market Rent, visit https://www.huduser.gov/portal/datasets/fmr.html.  For a copy of the 8-page FAQs, visit the Occupancy Solutions website’s resource page.

We all need to be compassionate and patient during this time and help responsible residents who need it work through the rental assistance maze.  Our current mantra should be “help keep responsible residents in their apartments!”

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