County participates in rental assistance program

by | Feb 11, 2021 | Latest

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:

Priority Applicants

Eligible households will be prioritized in the following or­der based on the characteristics stated below:

  1. Households in active evic­tion status.
  2. Households with income at or below 50 percent of the area median.
  3. Households with an in­dividual who has been unem­ployed for the 90 days prior to the application for assistance.

Eligible Expenses

  • Rent
  • 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)

Ineligible Expenses

  • 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.

Program Timeline

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.

For more stories like this, see the Feb. 11 issue or subscribe online.

From Staff Reports • [email protected]

 

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