Back in 2018, 38% of households were considered to be “rent-burdened.” Today, with the devastating effects of the coronavirus, rent evictions have become an even more prominent issue, especially as it can further contribute to a public health crisis.
With economic conditions becoming more volatile, many people are finding it harder to pay their rent on time. But the good news is there are ways to get help with paying rent that can relieve some of the financial pressure.
With that in mind, let’s look at how to get rent assistance, the available programs, and how to find more affordable rental housing.
How Can I Get Rent Assistance?
Struggling to pay rent can be very stressful. And, nothing instills panic like receiving a late rent notice. While sometimes you might be able to find a solution with the landlord or cover the rent yourself, other times you might need help to get through a rough financial period.
Luckily, various renters assistance programs can help with paying rent or even finding a place to rent in the first place.
When looking into different types of help for renters, it’s essential to keep in mind that the programs that a tenant is eligible for can vary greatly depending on income, family status, and various other factors.
Some of the things these programs can help with include paying rent, helping with the initial security deposit, or even various housing expenses associated with rent.
What is the Rent Relief Act?
The Rent Relief Act is a short-term relief program aimed to help tenants struggling with paying their rent because of the coronavirus.
Since many people have become unemployed or were laid off for extended periods, the number of “rent-burdened” people has skyrocketed. This presents a real risk as many people could end up being evicted if they don’t receive federal assistance for renters.
That’s why the Emergency Rent Relief Act of 2020 was put into place and funded by up to $100 million from the Coronavirus Relief Fund to help those who cannot pay their rent anymore.
The assistance from the program is available to households that earn less than 80% of the median income that has a rent burden of 30% or more.
Even though the qualification criteria is quite broad, those with the most urgent needs were prioritized first, and the program covered rent payments due between April 1st and July 31st, 2020.
Federal Programs for Rent Relief or Affordable Housing
As mentioned in the previous section, the Rent Relief Act of 2020 made it possible to get a rent subsidy sent directly to your landlord, covering the rent for a period up to July 31st, 2020.
To qualify, your household must have a median income of less than 80% before March 1st, 2020, have a rent burden of 30% or more before the same date, and must have a lower income than before the Covid-19 pandemic started.
But there are also affordable housing programs that you can take advantage of even without the special circumstances caused by the coronavirus.
One of these programs is the Privately-Owned Housing Subsidy. The program works with local building owners to subsidize rent to those that are eligible. The main requirement for the subsidy is your income level. However, you might also have to meet requirements from the property owner.
Another option is the Housing Choice Voucher. This allows you to find your own housing and have the government cover the voucher amount of your rent. To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen, have low enough income, and fill out a federal rent checks application that will need to be confirmed.
Finally, with the Public Housing option, you can rent from a local public housing agency based on your income, family status, and other eligibility factors.
Are There Any Eviction Prevention Programs Available?
Because of the coronavirus, the U.S. government has taken steps to prevent evictions from taking place using the temporary eviction ban. This ban is in effect until at least the end of 2020.
If you have low enough income this year, have applied to public housing, and continue to pay as much rent as you can, you can stay in your home, and the landlord cannot evict you.
However, it must be noted that once the ban is lifted, you will have to cover the entire rent that is due if you don’t want to be evicted.
How to Find Affordable Rental Housing
When looking for the best housing, getting government help with rent can make a big difference. It’s also essential you know what your top priorities are in a home as well as casting a wide search net. You never know–you may find a rare gem that’s made even more affordable by using one of the government programs listed above.
In most areas, you can find a local counselor who can advise on housing assistance by calling 1-800-569-4287.
You should also research which of the above programs work in your situation. Then, look at the various options available to you.
If you have housing opportunities that you find yourself, the Housing Voucher program might work better. On the other hand, Public Housing might have options that you wouldn’t have access to otherwise.
How AAOA Can Help
Finding help to pay rent is essential, especially in extreme situations like the coronavirus pandemic. And at AAOA, we are committed to informing apartment owners about ways their tenants can get help with paying rent.
If you want to learn more, including details about our property management software, contact us today!