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Now that troubled tenants are no longer protected by a nationwide eviction ban, it has become even more urgent that these families be approved for federal rent assistance.
Congress has allocated more than $ 45 billion in rent assistance to tenants and their landlords to weather the crisis, but the money has been too slow to reach families. Seven months after the approval of these funds, 16 states have apparently spent less than 5% of their share.
Diane Yantel, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, said: “6.5 million homes are rented and the risk of eviction has increased. “That number has barely increased since March, which tells us what we need to know about the unacceptable slowness of spending in many states and cities.”
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Advocates blamed the snail-speed deployment of funds on complex and difficult applications and staff shortages in hundreds of organizations working to provide aid. Still, he says tenants shouldn’t hesitate to get help, which can help them avoid evictions.
One simple request can help you live longer in your home.
In at least five states, those who have applied but have not yet received funding are entitled to some relocation protection. These states are Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Oregon, and Washington State. Some of these policies give tenants too much time off. For example, in Minnesota, people with pending applications for federal rent assistance cannot be evicted until June 2022.
Here’s what they need to know to get relief.
How can I apply?
The National Low Income Housing Coalition has a state-by-state list of 493 programs that provide federal funding. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also has a new online tool to help you seek help.
Who is eligible?
To be eligible for funding, at least one member of your household must be eligible for unemployment benefits or certify in writing that they have lost income or incurred significant expenses due to the pandemic. You must also show the risk of roaming, which may include unpaid rents or past utility notices.
Additionally, your income level for 2020 cannot exceed 80% of your region’s median income, although states have been asked to prioritize applicants who arrive at 50% or less, as well as those who are unemployed for 90 days or more.
Some national and local programs have set additional preferences and you can search for them.
For example, a fund in California aims to help Native American families. Another in Oklahoma sends money to people over 62 first.
How much could I get?
You can get help for up to 18 months, which includes a combination of past and future rent payments.
If you’ve already been approved for a rental fund but are still late, you can usually reapply, as long as you request relief for a different period. The money usually goes to your landlord, unless they refuse to comply (more details below).
I’m having trouble getting help. Why?
For starters, you are not alone.
Housing advocates report a number of issues with the deployment of aid, particularly around somewhat difficult application processes.
Andrew Auand, vice president of research at the National Low Income Housing Coalition, said he saw a 45-page request. Another asks tenants to document their income for the past six months.
“Officials are more concerned about the so-called crooks getting this money,” said Dan Rose, assistant professor of sociology at Winston-Salem State University and organizer of Housing Justice Now.
If you are unable to meet the documentation requirements for a program application, or if you are denied a certain amount of funding, look for other rental assistance resources in your area, experts say.
It may also be helpful to contact the organization and explain why you cannot submit a certain form. The most recent Treasury Department guidelines encourage programs to get people to listen, and more than half of them now allow this so-called self-check.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if a social worker could work with the tenant,” said Auand.
Another problem is that some landlords refuse to accept the money from the program because they do not want to accept its terms, which include restrictions on evicting that tenant or increasing their rent for a period of time. could.
encounter this problem?
Experts recommend that you ask the program if you can receive funding directly. More than a quarter of programs now allow tenants to turn to help.
I’m worried about the eviction. What should I do?