The federal ERA Program allows local programs to cover rent, utilities, and home energy costs. This includes electricity, gas, fuel oil, water and sewer, and trash removal. To qualify for rental assistance, you must earn less than 80% of the local median income. Income requirements vary by location, so check with your local agency for specific details in your area.
The outbreak of Covid-19 caused a shift in the daily life we once knew. Businesses were closed, curfews were enacted, and resources became scarce. Like so many other industries, the rental market was majorly affected by the state of the country. In the height of the pandemic, many relief programs were made available to citizens as we faced closures, layoffs, and evictions. Now, as we approach the two year mark of the beginning of Covid-19, many aspects of our lives have returned to normal, or our new normal that is. For many, assistance is still needed and the good news is that there are still programs available to help you and provide rental assistance.
What are ERA programs?
The federal ERA refers to Emergency Rental Assistance. This program provides direct funding to states, local governments, US territories, and indigenous tribes. The funds provide the community with assistance paying rent, utilities, and covering other household expenses such as internet and moving costs. These resources can be used by both renters and landlords to assist in funding unpaid rent due to the hardships from Covid-19.
State and local programs are distributing billions of dollars in rental assistance to help renters stay housed during the pandemic. Rental assistance helps renters and landlords make ends meet.
If you’re a renter having trouble paying your rent, utilities, or other housing costs – or if you’re a landlord trying to stay afloat with tenants in this situation – help may be available. State and local programs are taking applications from renters and landlords to distribute money from the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program in their own communities.
If you’re a landlord, you may think of rental assistance as help for renters. But right now, most federal emergency rental assistance programs accept applications from landlords. Where renters can apply, they often need your help to complete the process and make payments to you.
What does emergency rental assistance cover?
The federal ERA Program allows local programs to cover rent, utilities, and home energy costs. This includes electricity, gas, fuel oil, water and sewer, and trash removal. If your landlord normally pays for utilities or home energy costs, these are counted as part of your rent.
Rental assistance may also cover:
Reasonable late fees (if not included in your rental or utility debt)
Internet service to your home
Moving expenses and other rental-related fees (such as security deposits, application fees, or screening fees) for families who have to move
Some programs may also provide housing counseling, case management, legal representation, and other housing stability services
Can I get help with the cost of moving to a new home?
The federal ERA Program allows local programs to help with moving expenses, security deposits, rental applications or screening fees.
How much financial help can I get?
The federal ERA Program allows local programs to receive up to 18 months of help with rent, including overdue rent, back to March 13, 2020, if the money is available.
If you have overdue rent, the money must go toward rent that you owe, first. Local programs may be able to help with future rent. In addition, you may get help with your future rent payments, up to 3 months at a time. But this depends on your local program.
Ask your local program about the total amount of help available to you.
If I don’t need help with rent, can I still get help with utilities, heating and cooling bills, the cost of moving, or other costs?
Yes, your local program may offer help with utility or energy costs alone. This includes help paying for future utility or energy bills, even if you owe money for existing or overdue bills.
Utilities and home energy costs include electricity, gas, water and sewer, trash removal, and fuel oil. If your landlord is responsible for paying utilities and home energy costs, these will be treated as rent.
Local programs are allowed to cover moving expenses, security deposits, rental application or screening fees, and motel or hotel bills for families who have to move out of their homes.
Local programs are also allowed to use some emergency rental assistance funds to help you with other expenses related to your housing, such as reasonable late fees, as well as costs for internet service that allows you to engage in distance learning, telework, telemedicine, and getting government services. For providers to cover it, you must provide a bill, invoice, or other evidence that shows you paid for the service.
Check with your local program to find out how they can help
Can I get help with rent and utility bills from last year?
Yes, but only for rent and utility bills charged on or after March 13, 2020, when a national state of emergency was declared.
Do I have to be behind on rent to get help?
You don’t have to be behind on rent to get assistance. Some programs offer help with future rent. However, if you have overdue rent, the money you get must go toward rent that you owe before it can be used for future rent.
Can rental assistance cover the cost of a hotel or motel room?
Yes. If your household is eligible for emergency rental assistance, local programs may cover the cost of a hotel or motel room if:
You had to move out of your home and you don’t have a permanent home elsewhere
You can provide hotel or motel bills or other evidence of your stay, and
Your local program follows the rules for this emergency rental assistance
If emergency rental assistance is not available to help cover these costs, you can also ask for help under the HUD Emergency Solutions Grant program. Visit Benefits.gov for more information about Emergency Solutions Grants. You may also be able to find help at DisasterAssistance.gov
Find Rental Assistance from your State, Local, or Tribe: