What’s in the COVID-Relief Package for Rental Assistance

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As discussed in the January edition of the CBRE Affordable Housing Brief (view here), the latest COVID-relief package released in December included $25 billion for rental assistance. As more information and resources have become available, CBRE wanted to provide an update on how this assistance could benefit your affordable properties. It should be noted that due to high levels of need, it is expected that the program will run out of funds prior to the expiration date of the program (end of 2021). Those seeking aid are encouraged to do so as soon as possible.

How It Works
The $25 billion in rental assistance will be disbursed to state and local (those with populations exceeding 200,000) governments. These governments will then disburse the funds via their own preferred channels. As such, the process to receive aid differs from location to location. Details of state and local programs can be obtained via prominent advocacy groups and government offices.

Qualification for Aid
In order to qualify, renters must demonstrate need, which is defined by the following criteria:

· Renter qualifies for unemployment or can prove income loss, substantial costs or financial hardship due to COVID-19.

· Renter can demonstrate risk of homelessness or housing instability.

· Renter has a household income at or below 80% of area median (calendar year 2020).

In addition, household incomes at the time of application can be used to qualify, but eligibility must be redetermined every 90 days. Priority assistance will be given to households with an individual who is unemployed for at least 90 days and those with incomes at or below 50% of the area median – directly affecting many tenants of affordable units.

Receiving Aid
Applications for assistance can be submitted by qualifying households or landlords on their behalf. Unless the landlord objects to receiving aid directly, funds are generally paid directly to landlords and utility providers.

Aid can be used for up to 12 months of assistance, plus the potential for three additional months, if need is determined. Priority will be given to payment of rental arrears that could result in eviction. Rental support outside of arrears can only be granted in up to three-month increments. After each three-month period, households can still reapply based on need, for up to 15 months of total assistance.

Additional Resources
National Low Income Housing Coalition: State and Local Assistance Programs
US Dept of Treasury: Emergency Rental Assistance Program

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