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Rental Assistance: Funds still available for those affected by pandemic

Published on August 5, 2021

COVID-19 Rental Assistance graphic

President Joe Biden this week announced a plan to reinstate a moratorium on COVID-19-related evictions, but it’s unknown how soon it would take effect. The original moratorium expired July 31.

Congress has allocated more than $46 billion in emergency rental relief since December 2020. Those funds were distributed directly to states and local governments to be dispersed to households unable to pay rent or utilities due to the pandemic.

Huntsville’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) launched in March. To date, the program has provided about $2.3 million in funding, though Community Development Manager Scott Erwin said funds are still available.

“We’ve had constant requests,” he said. “We’re working through them as quickly as possible.”

Erwin urged community members who need ERAP assistance to begin the application process sooner rather than later.

“When the moratorium ends, we’ll have a new surge,” he said.

Community outreach

To help residents sign up for the ERAP, Community Development will host upcoming community outreach events on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in August. The first will be Aug. 10-11 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Richard Showers Center, 4600 Blue Springs Road, N.W. Residents who need help applying can walk in or call 211 to schedule an appointment.

For those who need evening help, Community Development will be available on Tuesdays from 5-7 p.m. by appointment only. Residents should call 211 to schedule a meeting.

Finally, an outreach event will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 21, at First Baptist Church, 600 Governors Drive S.W. Again, residents can walk in or call 211 to make an appointment.

Frequently asked questions

What are some common challenges associated with the application process?

The biggest challenge Community Development is experiencing is applicants who begin – but don’t complete – the application process. That’s why it’s important for applicants to make sure they have prepared all applicable paperwork, including financial documents, unemployment award letters, pay stubs, a letter of employment termination, or documents from a landlord or leasing office.

Are ERAP payments sent to the tenant or landlord?

In most cases, assistance is provided directly to a landlord or leasing office. To that end, tenants should also let their landlord know they will receive an email seeking verification of unpaid rent. The sooner that information is verified, the sooner assistance can be processed. In the rare event a tenant faces eviction but cannot contact a landlord, the assistance may be provided directly to the tenant.

How quickly is assistance distributed?

Community Development is working with local nonprofit organizations to process requests as soon as possible. Anyone who has completed an application but has not received a response in three weeks or more should contact Community Development at 256-427-5400.

Is it too late to seek assistance if an eviction notice has been served?

No. Those who have been served eviction notices can still apply for ERAP assistance.

How do I learn more about the program?

Visit our website for full details. You can also contact the Community Development Office at 256-427-5400 or email Scott.Erwin@HuntsvilleAL.gov for information.