In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, both renters and landlords in Pinal County can continue to apply for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), which offers up to $3,500 per month in rent and utility assistance.
Applications will be accepted through the end of the year or until the funds are exhausted, according to a news release issued by Pinal County.
“The value of this program speaks for itself,” said Maricopa city councilmember Henry Wade. “It benefits people who, through no fault of their own, have found themselves up against it on rental or house payments or utilities. This program helps them hold on through the rough times until they can get back on their feet. It’s helping people stay in their homes.”
Designed to help both landlords and renters affected by COVID-related job loss or other factors that prevented them from making rent or mortgage payments, the federal government’s Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 created rent and utility assistance for Arizona renters and landlords. This assistance is given out at the state and local level.
According to District 4 Supervisor Jeff McClure, the aid is still needed because so much damage was done early in the pandemic.
“There are many folks still feeling the effects of the pandemic-related employment slowdowns and are behind on their rent, and many are also behind on utilities,” he said.
Rental assistance is available to both landlords and renters and while both may apply for assistance, eligibility is based on the renter’s address and ability to meet the following federal requirements:
- The renter has a risk of homelessness, housing instability or unsafe living conditions as evidenced by factors that include notices of eviction, utility shutoff, past due rent and past due utilities.
- The renter or a member of the renter’s household has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic
- The renter’s household income is less than or equal to 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI). (In Pinal County that 80% threshold puts the applicant’s maximum income at $43,600 for a single-person household and increases to $82,200 for households of eight or more.)
According to Gayle Randolph, a certified HUD counselor with NID Housing Counseling Agency, the ERAP program offered advantages previous federal programs had not.
“This program was amazing in comparison with other programs because the people could do the application themselves,” she said. “They didn’t have to go to an agency to do it.”
In their application, renters will need to provide a copy of their lease or rental agreement, photo ID, electricity and/or gas bill, disconnection notice if applicable, proof of income, eviction notice if applicable and proof or explanation of their hardship, such as a termination letter from their employer.
An eligible household may receive up to $3,500 per month for both rent and utility assistance, depending on their need. Past-due balances dating back to March 2020 will be given priority. Future assistance will be allowed in three-month increments. Assistance is available for a maximum of 15 months.
One-time assistance of up to $500 is available to landlords for court and attorney-related costs associated with each housing unit or renter. Assistance payments will be given directly to landlords and/or utility service providers.
Landlords that receive rental assistance funds agree to release their tenant from all liability related to non-payment of rent for the covered periods. A broad release, it includes waiving late fees, penalties, legal costs and fees, garnishments, court judgments, and court orders of removal. Also, the landlord must confirm the renter has not moved, been removed and is still living on the property during the time period covered by the rental assistance payment. The landlord also agrees not to remove the renter for at least 30 days following the payment.
For information, interested parties may call 833-912-0878, and applications may be completed at the Arizona Department of Economic Security website.