The Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. You may qualify for emergency housing assistance if you can show evidence of experiencing financial hardship due to the pandemic. 

The federal ERA program helps pay rent and utilities if you have trouble with finances due to the pandemic. You will need to apply through your state, local area, or tribe. You can find programs in your area through the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau website.

Coronavirus Emergency Rental Assistance

As long as pandemic rental assistance funds are available, you may receive assistance for up to 18 months in some states. As of writing, the country has used about 57 percent of the total funding, or $14.1 billion of the allotted $25 billion. Funds can cover:

  •     Rent.
  •     Reasonable late fees.
  •     Utilities like electricity, gas, oil, water, sewer, and trash.
  •     Internet service.
  •     Moving expenses.
  •     Security deposits and application fees.

In some cases, the government may provide payment to your landlord directly or give the funds to you to pay what you owe. Likewise, the program may pay your utility bill or supply you with funds to cover the cost. 

Your household must be experiencing some financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic that puts your housing at risk. You or a member of your household must meet the requirements for rental assistance, including:

  •     Loss of income.
  •     Qualify for unemployment.
  •     Owes significant expense.
  •     Has another financial hardship. 
  •     Experiencing housing instability. 
  •     At risk for homelessness. 

The household income must be less than a certain amount depending on where you live. Typically, households with incomes up to 80 percent of the area’s median income are low income. PHAs will prioritize households with incomes less than 50 percent of the area’s median income.

You will need to prove you qualify for ERA funds. Your application may need to include proof of job or income loss, or you may need to show past due notifications. The documents you must provide will depend on your situation. 

The ERA program is for renters only; however, homeowners can look into the Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF). HAF can cover mortgage payments and delinquencies, home energy services, property tax, and more. As a homeowner, you can request loan forbearance to reduce or pause payments until you make normal payments. 

Are you looking for long-term housing assistance? The government has affordable housing options that are based on your household income. Check out how Public Housing works next. 

By Jennifer Symonds