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What Renters Should Know about the Emergency Rental Assistance Program

Emergency Rental Assistance Webinar

What should renters know about the Emergency Rental Assistance Program? The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 passed Congress with strong bipartisan support. President Trump signed it into law on December 27, 2020.  To sum up, this relief package provides critical support to the American people and will further strengthen our economic recovery.

President Trump signed the CARES Act into law on March 27, 2020. As a result, it delivered on the Trump Administration’s commitment to supporting the American people through the public health and economic impacts of COVID-19.

Together, these relief bills provide fast and direct economic assistance for American workers, families, and small businesses. Certainly, it also works to preserve jobs for American industries.

Emergency Rental Assistance Program Relief Package

The Emergency Rental Assistance program makes available $25 billion to assist households. The program meant for those that are unable to pay rent and utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In short, States, U.S. Territories, local governments, and Indian tribes will be provided with funding.

Grantees use the funds to provide assistance to eligible households through existing or newly created rental assistance programs.

Information for Renters


The definition of an “eligible household” is as a renter household in which at least one or more individuals meets the following criteria:

  • Qualifies for unemployment or has experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19;
  • Demonstrates a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability; and
  • Has a household income at or below 80 percent of the area median.

A household cannot receive a duplication of benefits. In short, a household cannot receive funding that is duplicative of any other federally funded rental assistance program. Households that include the following will be prioritized:

  • A household that includes an individual who has been unemployed for the 90 days prior to application for assistance; and
  • Households with income at or below 50% of the area median.

There are two ways to determine household income. The first is the household’s total income for the 2020 calendar year. The second is the household’s monthly income at the time of application.  For household incomes determined using the latter method, income eligibility must be redetermined every 3 months.

Available Assistance

Eligible households may receive up to 12 months of assistance. An additional 3 months of assistance may be provided if the grantee determines the extra months are needed to ensure housing stability. However, grantee funds must still be available.

What if a household requires more assistance after the 3 month period? Households may reapply for additional assistance at the end of the 3 month period. In order for this to occur, the overall time limit for assistance must not be exceeded. Either an eligible household or a landlord on behalf of that eligible household may submit an application for rental assistance. Households and landlords must apply through programs established by grantees. In general, landlords and utility service providers will be funded directly. If the landlord does not wish to participate, funds may be paid directly to the eligible household. Households and landlords should not submit applications for assistance to Treasury.

For questions, always consult a Certified Public Accountant. Submitted by: Steve Stevens, Director, Assurance Services.  To ask Steve a question, email him here.  

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