Collin County has started a rental assistance program to help people who have been hurt by the effects of the pandemic.
The county will use Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 funds to begin the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), according to a Collin County news release. This program will provide residential rent and utility assistance for residents of Collin County, excluding the cities of Allen, Dallas, Frisco, Plano and McKinney. Those cities will be operating their own programs.
“Most of the larger cities have access to federal funding to assist their residents,” said Collin County Precinct 2 Commissioner Cheryl Williams, in an email. “If the county had not stepped up to accept these funds they would have gone back to the state for them to administer. I’m confident the county can get needed assistance out to people faster and without them having to compete with people from all across the state.”
An “eligible household” is defined as a renter household in which at least one or more individuals meets the following criteria:
- Qualifies for unemployment due to COVID-19, has experienced a reduction in household income because of COVID-19, or has incurred significant costs due to COVID-19 or experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19; and demonstrates a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability; and has a household income at or below 80 percent of the area median.
Applicants will need to provide documentation to support their eligibility for assistance. Household income will be determined as either the household’s total income for the calendar year 2020 or the household’s monthly income at the time of application, officials said.
In addition, county officials explained other components of the program:
Eligible households will be prioritized in the following order based on the characteristics stated below:
- Households in active eviction status.
- Households with income at or below 50 percent of the area median.
- Households with an individual who has been unemployed for the 90 days prior to the application for assistance.
- Rental arrears, including contracted late fees
- Utilities (for example, electricity, gas, water, sewer, trash removal)
- Reasonable landlord attorney fees and court costs for active eviction cases (subject to future guidance from the United States Department of Treasury)
- Telecommunication services (telephone, cable or internet)
- Any other expenses not expressly listed as eligible expenses
Level of Assistance
- Eligible households may receive up to 12 months of assistance – measured from March 13, 2020 – plus an additional three months if the applicant is able to show the extra months are needed
- Assistance will be provided to reduce an eligible household’s rental arrears before the applicant will be evaluated for future rent eligibility.
- Rental and utility assistance will be provided up to the maximum number of months allowed or $20,000, whichever is less.
- Assistance for future non-delinquent – rent and utility expenses may be provided for up to three months at a time. Payment Method
- Funds will be paid directly to landlords and utility service providers participating in ERAP.
- If a landlord does not participate, funds may be paid directly to the eligible household • Before funds are paid directly to an eligible household, a written request for participation will be sent by certified mail to the landlord or utility provider to request the landlord or utility provider’s participation.
The landlord or utility provider has to respond within 21 calendar days after mailing or provide a written response declining to participate in ERAP. Funds may be paid directly to the household to be used exclusively for eligible expenses.
No Duplication of Benefits
- Assistance provided for an eligible household may not duplicate any other assistance, including federal, state, and local assistance provided for the same costs.
- An eligible household that occupies a federally-subsidized residential or mixed-use property may receive assistance, provided that funds are not applied to costs that have been or will be reimbursed under any other federal assistance.
- If an eligible household receives a monthly federal subsidy such as a Housing Choice Voucher, Public Housing or Project-Based Rental Assistance, and tenant rent is adjusted according to changes in income, they may not be eligible.
The online, pre-screening questionnaire will be open for submissions starting at noon March 1, 2021. Those qualified for the program will be notified by a third part administrator to continue their application process.
The application window will close at noon Oct. 31, 2021.
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From Staff Reports • [email protected]