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How Can I Get Help Paying My Rent?

How Can I Get Help Paying My Rent?

Rene Emery

by Rene Emery
Contributing Writer

June 2, 2021
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How Can I Get Help Paying My Rent?

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Need help paying rent during the pandemic? You’re not alone. More than 2 million Americans are more than three months behind on rent. Whether you’ve lost your job or your income has been greatly reduced, you may need help making rent payments.

If you’re facing eviction, there are several emergency rental assistance programs available.

State Rental Assistance Programs

Your state may offer programs that can help with rent payments. While every state will have its own programs, some of the most common ones include:

State HUD Programs

If you’ve lost your income because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be eligible for rental assistance through your local government HUD program.

Your state may offer:

  • Subsidized housing
  • Public housing or housing choice vouchers (known as Section 8)

For more information on your individual state options, visit HUD’s website and find your state’s page.

Emergency Rental Assistance Programs

Many states have emergency rental help programs due to the pandemic. These programs offer financial assistance to help you through this difficult time. Usually, payments are made directly to landlords or utility providers – not individuals.

Each state will have its own eligibility requirements.

For example, to be eligible for Arizona’s emergency rental assistance program, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at risk of housing instability, homelessness or unsafe living conditions. This must be supported by a past due rent notice, eviction notice, utility shutoff or past due notice, or some other evidence of housing instability.
  • Have an income that is no more than 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI).
  • Be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Arizona’s program will give you up to $3,500 per month to help with rent and utility bills. The money will be sent directly to your landlord and/or utility companies.

Most states will have similar requirements. Essentially, you must meet household income requirements, be behind on your rent payments and be affected by the pandemic. Each state will have its own requirements on how to apply and show proof of your financial hardship.

Some states have made it easy to find information about their programs, including:

You can also find more information about state emergency rental assistance programs through the National Council of State Housing Agencies. Click on your state to see which programs are available and for additional information.

Federal Rent Assistance

Federal government agencies and housing authorities are also offering rental aid.

COVID-19 Eviction Moratorium

The COVID-19 eviction moratorium was put into place on September 4, 2020 and has been extended through June 20, 2021.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ordered the ban. You will need to use the CDC declaration form to inform your landlord of the situation.

In order to qualify, you must have:

  • Received a stimulus check, earned less than $99,000 as an individual ($198,000 as a joint filer) or not had to file taxes in 2020, AND
  • Been laid off work, earn substantially lower income, work fewer work hours or for lower wages, or have substantial medical expenses.

You must also agree that you have done your best to make rent payments and have tried to qualify for rental help programs.

The moratorium is only meant to keep you from being removed from your home. Unless you come to an agreement with your landlord, you’ll still have to pay:

  • Back rent
  • Fees
  • Interest
  • Other penalties in your lease

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

The TANF program is run by states, but it’s funded by the federal government. It’s sometimes called “welfare.”

TANF can help with:

  • Rent payment
  • Food
  • Electricity
  • Job training
  • Childcare costs

To see if you qualify for TANF, contact your state’s office.

Charity, Agency or Nonprofit

Government aid isn’t the only way to get financial assistance for rent. You may also be able to get help from a nonprofit organization, charity or agency. Here are some options:

  • The Salvation Army offers rent and bill assistance programs in many areas of the country. Contact your local chapter to see if help is available near you.
  • Many Catholic charity branches are also offering assistance to help those in need.
  • Modest Needs is a charity that helps those facing short-term financial hardship.
  • Hopelink offers rent assistance through their eviction prevention program.

If you’re having trouble making rent, there is help out there. Government programs should be your first option, but don’t hesitate to reach out to charities and non-profits for help.

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