Are we nearing the end of rent relief due to the Covid-19 pandemic?
Here’s what you need to know.
Rent relief for Americans who were struggling financially was a centerpiece of the financial stimulus that Congress made available in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Nearly two years later, funds have exhausted and some states have closed the application process. With the proliferation of the Omicron variant, some renters are wondering whether there will be more financial relief.
Stimulus provided $46 billion of rent assistance
- In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Congress appropriated $46.6 billion in emergency aid for renters.
- This included $25 billion through the Consolidated Appropriations Act. Congress then approved $21.6 billion in emergency rental assistance as part of the American Rescue Plan, which is the $1.9 trillion stimulus package that President Joe Biden signed last year.
- This rent relief is separate from federal mortgage relief.
- The U.S. Treasury provided funding for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program to both state and local governments. Stimulus funds are not directly available to renters or landlords.
How to qualify for rent relief
Rent relief has been available to pay both rent and utilities, including past due rent, rental fees, late fees and relocation expenses. Renters can access rent relief for up to 18 months. To get rent assistance, a renter can contact their local or state housing authority or government agency.
Here’s how to qualify for rent relief:
- You are a residential renter and pay rent;
- You don’t have to have past-due rent;
- It’s possible to get rent relief for future rent due;
- You or someone in your home has qualified for unemployment benefits, experienced a reduction in income, or experienced financial hardship as a direct or indirect result of the Covid-19 pandemic;
- you or someone in your home can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability; and
- your household income is at or below 80% of area median income.
Some states have stopped rent assistance
As CNBC reported, some states have closed or stopped accepting applications for rent assistance as federal funds have been exhausted. For example:
- New York: no longer accepting new applications
- Washington, D.C.: no longer accepting new applications
- New Jersey: stopped applications in December
- Texas: stopped applications in December
- Oregon: stopped applications in December
That said, there still may be funds available from your local or state government or housing authority. It’s also possible that Congress can appropriate additional federal funding for rent assistance. The National Low Income Housing Coalition has a helpful emergency rental assistance dashboard of available programs.