In late August, the U.S. Treasury issued an update on the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). The news was not good. Only roughly 10% of the $46.5 billion that Congress has approved to provide rental relief has been distributed. That means only about $5.1 billion has been distributed to struggling renters who critically need these funds.
“People are extremely frustrated and that’s understandable given the dire situation that they’re facing,” says Barry Rothman, Housing Counseling Program Manager at Consolidated Credit. “Even renters that done everything right when applying for these programs are having to wait weeks to get a response in some cases. In the meantime, we’re doing everything we can to put them in contact with other nonprofit organizations and resources that can help while they wait to hear if they are approved.”
Rothman says it’s critical that renters who need assistance funds make sure that they apply soon and complete their application correctly to ensure it can get processed quickly.
“If you’re applying to get rental assistance, call us,” Rothman says. “A housing counselor can assist you in completing your application and ensuring you have all the documentation you need to get approved. Even when it comes to answering a question like what caused your hardship, which is on all the applications, there are facts that are important to include and things that are better to leave out. Our team can help ensure you include all the information necessary to get approved for the help you need.”
This video provides some basic information about emergency rental assistance programs (ERAPs). Note that the CDC deadline for the ban on eviction mentioned in the video was extended to September 30. However, time is running short now and if the CDC does not extend the eviction moratorium again, then emergency rental assistance may be crucial to avoid eviction.
Common Questions about Emergency Rental Assistance
What is ERAP?
Emergency Rental Assistance Programs, we’re seeing them come up in a lot of different locations. And there’s an overlay of different programs.
So, in Broward County, they’ve received money from the federal government to offer assistance to people who have had a loss of income or reduction of income through no fault of their own due to COVID. And it could be anything from someone who had a lost income, they lost their job, their job was on furlough for a while, or it could be that they lost their job and now they have a new job but at a lower salary.
So, the program will pay for your arrears up to 12 months, plus it will pay up to three months in advance going forward for your future rent.
Will this program pay my rent for me?
The program will literally help you pay your rent, help you catch up, and then can even help you going forward. But they’re also going to pay for utilities that are in arrears. So, it’s going to help you get back on your feet and not lose your apartment.
How do I know which program is right for me?
If you live in Broward County and you don’t live in the City of Fort Lauderdale or in a city that has its own program, you want to apply for the Broward program immediately. If you don’t live in Broward County, then you want to apply for the state program. If you live in the City of Fort Lauderdale, you have a choice. You can go to the Fort Lauderdale program, or I can go to the state program as well.
So, there are choices for people, which is one of the great things. It seems confusing, but it’s all the same money and it helps you in the same way.
Can I get help with the application?
Absolutely. You can call a housing counselor. Consolidated Credit, for instance, we will talk to you and find out which works best for you based on where you live. And we’ll make a recommendation to you and we’ll point you in the right direction.
Do I need to inform my landlord?
Absolutely. So, your landlord must apply at the same time that you do. Your applications have to match together. So, what will happen is that you will apply as a tenant for all of these programs and your landlord will apply as the landlord.
When you apply as a tenant, you’re going to list information about your landlord and that will enable the program—if the landlord hasn’t reached out already to the program—to actually reach back out to the landlord to get them to fill out their application.
In their application, they have to provide information about you as the renter, information about them as a landlord. And they have to do things like provide a ledger that shows where you’ve paid, where you haven’t paid. And that cross-reference what you say is missing, what is in arrears on your rent from before.
So, it all works and has to come together. And they match that data up and then they pay the landlord directly on the program.
When should I apply?
If you’re behind on your rent and you’re behind 30 days or more, you want to apply now. First of all, the moratorium on evictions ends on June 30th. So, after that point, a landlord can choose to evict. But you want to apply today.
You don’t want to wait and see if things improve. Consider that you’re going to have government taxpayer money that you’ve paid into the system for will come back now and help you with your arrears. So, that will cover your arrears and your money can now go forward for your future rents.
More emergency rental assistance questions answered
Although there is no deadline for these programs, they are on a first-come, first-serve basis. Some municipal and county programs like Miami-Dade have already closed. So, you want to apply as soon as possible to ensure you get the funds you need before they run out.
It’s important to note that if your municipal or county program has already closed, you can still apply for the Florida state emergency rental assistance program through OurFlorida.com
Emergency rental assistance funds can be used to cover past-due or current rent payments and past-due or current utilities. Programs for specific states, counties, or municipalities may have different rules on how many months of past-due (arrears) payments can be covered.
The Emergency Rental Assistance Program has been expanded, so if you’ve previously been turned down apply again. You may get approved under a new ERAP even if you were denied under a previous program.
Not at all. The money you receive through an Emergency Rental Assistance Program is essentially a gift. Not only do you not need to pay it back, but it’s also not treated as taxable income according to the IRS. So, you do not need to pay it back and you will not be taxed on the money in next year’s income taxes.
Yes. Some nonprofit organizations may be able to provide additional resources that can provide support while you wait for your application to process. In some cases, nonprofit organizations may be able to provide advances to households that are at high risk of eviction.
The U.S. Treasury has even stated they are “establishing guidelines for state and local programs to engage with non-profit organizations able and willing to take on the financial risk of advancing assistance prior to an application being fully processed to speed aid to at-risk households.”
Rothman says that Consolidated Credit’s housing counselors can help connect renters with these types of resources. For example, he recently connected a Broward County Veteran with Mission United, while the family waited for their Broward ERAP application to process.
Rental Assistance in Broward County
Consolidated Credit’s housing counseling team is currently assisting Broward County residents with rental assistance applications. You can call 800-204-0557 to ask questions and get help to get through the application process.
NOTE: If you live in the City of Fort Lauderdale, there is a city program that you can apply for. Call us for more information about this program.
There are four types of expenses that Broward ERAP can help you cover:
- Up to 12 months of past-due rent, including contracted late fees
- Up to 12 months of past-due utility payments, including electric, gas, water, and trash removal
- Up to three months of future rent payments
- Relocation expenses, such as a rental security deposit, application fees, and even hotel costs
Eligible households can receive up to 12 months of assistance. However, you can also get additional three months if you can demonstrate the extra payments are needed to stabilize your household.
Eligibility for Broward ERAP is based on your household situation. An “eligible household” is defined as a rental household where at least one or more individuals meet the following criteria:
- Qualified for unemployment, experienced a reduction in income, or incurred significant costs as a result of financial hardship caused by COVID-19
- Is able to demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability, such as an eviction notice, utility shutoff notice, or past-due notices
- You must have a household income at or below 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI) for a household of your size in Broward County
Priority will be given to applicants whose household income is at or below 50% of AMI, those who have been unemployed 90 days prior to the application, and anyone with an active eviction status.
You can apply for Broward County’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program online. There are also four intake locations where you can apply in person if you do not have access to a computer or need assistance.
5701 W. Sunrise Blvd.
Plantation, FL 33313
Housing Foundation of America
2400 N. University Drive, Suite 200
Pembroke Pines, FL 333024
Housing Foundation of America
1773 N. State Road 7, Suite 101-D
Lauderhill, FL 33313
Crisis Housing Solutions (at the Northwest Family Success Center)
10077 NW 29th St.
Coral Springs, FL 33065
You must call the scheduling hotline at 1-800-204-0557 to schedule an appointment. They will also go over all the documentation you will need to bring with you to complete the application.
Residents of the City of Fort Lauderdale can apply for rental assistance through their city program. You can call 1-800-204-0557 for more information.
The following cities and municipalities are eligible under the county program:
- Coconut Creek
- Cooper City
- Coral Springs
- Dania Beach
- Deerfield Beach
- Hallandale Beach
- Hillsboro Beach
- Lauderdale by the Sea
- Lauderdale Lakes
- Lazy Lake
- Lighthouse Point
- North Lauderdale
- Oakland Park
- Pembroke Park
- Pembroke Pines
- Pompano Beach
- Sea Ranch Lakes
- Southwest Ranches
- West Park
- Wilton Manors
Rental Assistance in Palm Beach County
Palm Beach County has an Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program as well that covers rent and utility payments. The program is open until further notice.
- You must be a Palm Beach County resident in a resident dwelling
- Your household income must be at or below 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI) for a household of your size
- You must qualify for unemployment or experienced a reduction in income either directly or indirectly as a result of COVID-19
- You must be able to demonstrate a risk of homelessness or housing instability, such as providing eviction or past-due payment notices
Households will be given priority status if the household income is at or below 30% AMI, there is an eviction notice or a member of the household has been unemployed for more than 90 days.
The Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program in Palm Beach County will help you cover:
- Up to 12 months of back rent, not including past-due rent owed prior to March 19, 2020.
- Up to 12 months of past-due utilities
- Up to three months of future rent payments, once arrears are paid
You can apply online through rentalassistancepbc.org. You can also receive in-person assistance through participating library branches in Palm Beach County. Assistance is available Monday through Friday 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Participating library branches:
- Hagen Ranch Rd Branch, 14350 Hagen Ranch Rd, Delray Beach, FL 33446
- Gardens Branch, 11303 Campus Dr, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410
- Okeechobee Branch, 5689 Okeechobee Blvd, West Palm Beach, FL 33417
- Glades Rd Branch, 20701 95th Avenue South, Boca Raton, FL 33434
- Belle Glade Branch, 725 NW 4th St, Belle Glade, FL 33430
- Acreage Branch, 15801 Orange Blvd, Loxahatchee, FL 33470
- West Boca Branch, 18685 FL-7, Boca Raton, FL 33498 (TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)
- Royal Palm Beach Branch, 500 Civic Center Way, Royal Palm Beach, FL 33411
- Greenacres Branch, 3750 Jog Rd, Greenacres, FL 33467
- Main Library Branch, 3650 Summit Blvd, West Palm Beach, FL 33406
You can demonstrate an indirect loss of income to qualify for rental assistance if:
- An individual that supported your household financially is no longer able to pay due to unemployment or loss of income caused by COVID-19
- You incurred costs by caring for someone who had COVID-19
- Your household experienced increased childcare costs due to COVID-19
- Your household had increased utility costs as a result of COVID-19
- You experienced an increase in medical costs due to COVID-19
- Belle Glade
- Boca Raton
- Boyton Beach
- Briny Breezes
- Cloud Lake
- Delray Beach
- Glen Ridge
- Gulf Steam
- Highland Beach
- Juno Beach
- Jupiter Inlet Colony
- Lake Clarke Shores
- Lake Park
- Lake Worth Beach
- Loxahatchee Groves
- Mangonia Park
- Ocean Ridge
- Palm Beach
- Palm Beach Gardens
- Palm Beach Shores
- Riviera Beach
- South Bay
- Town of South Palm Beach
- Village of Golf
- Village of North Palm Beach
- Village of Palm Springs
- Village of Royal Palm Beach
- West Palm Beach
If you need more information about Palm Beach County’s Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program, call 561-355-4792 or email [email protected].
Rental Assistance in Miami-Dade County
Miami-Dade’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program 2.3 (ERAP 2.3) has already closed. If you live in Miami-Dade County and need rental assitance you can still apply for the assistance through the state program through OurFlorida.com.
Call 1-800-435-2261 for free rental counseling with a HUD-certified housing counselor.