DES announces Rental Assistance Program for families struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic

DES announces Rental Assistance Program for families struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic
(Source: Live 5/File)

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) and counties throughout the state are working together to launch a new Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).

The funding will provide financial assistance and housing stability to families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Recipients can use the money for rent, rental arrears, utilities, utility arrears, and other expenses related to housing stability.

Arizona will receive a total of $492 million from the U.S. Department of the Treasury for the implementation of the program. DES was awarded $289 million and will partner with twelve Arizona counties to distribute emergency rental and utility assistance.

The counties include Apache, Graham, Navajo, Cochise, Greenlee, Pinal, Coconino, La Paz, Santa Cruz, Gila, Mohave, and Yavapai.

Maricopa County, Pima County, and Yuma County are receiving funding directly from the federal government. Those counties plan to launch their own rental assistance programs, which will be separate from this DES program.

“Households across the state continue to face economic challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are pleased to be able to provide this new assistance program alongside the other services we have to offer at DES,” said DES Director Michael Wisehart. “We will work quickly and diligently to provide rental and utility assistance to those in need.”

Beginning Feb. 23, Arizona households will be able to apply for up to $3,500 in rental and utility assistance for each month. After their initial application, households may receive up to 12 months of assistance. After receiving 12 months of benefits, whether, for arrears or future payments, the household may apply for a three-month extension of benefits upon providing documentation of eligibility to the Department.

Payments will be issued directly to landlords and/or utility companies on the renter’s behalf.

The ERAP is available to both landlords and renters, but eligibility is based on the the renter’s address and ability to meet the following criteria:

  • The renter has a risk of homelessness, housing instability, or unsafe living conditions demonstrated by the following:
    • Eviction notice
    • Utility shutoff notice
    • Past due rent notice
    • Past due utility notice
    • Any other evidence of unsafe or unhealthy living conditions or housing instability
  • The renter or member of the renter’s household is eligible for unemployment insurance benefits or has experienced a financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • The renter’s household income is less than or equal to 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI)
    • Assistance priority will be given to renters with household incomes under 50% AMI and to those who have been unemployed 90 days or longer.

During their application, renters will need to provide a copy of lease/rental agreement, photo ID, electricity and/or gas bill, disconnection notice (if any), proof of income, eviction notice (if applicable) and proof of hardship, such as a termination letter.

Applications open on Feb. 23, CLICK HERE to apply.

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