Behind On Rent & Utilities Because Of The Pandemic?

August 12, 2021

If You Are Having A COVID-19 Financial Hardship, You Are Encouraged To Submit An Application

If your income has gone down or COVID-19 has affected your financial situation and made it hard to pay rent, contact your landlord right away. Reach out early to discuss your potential options for relief. You may be eligible for financial assistance through a state or local program or your landlord, may know of other helpful resources.

Communicate With Your Landlord
If you’re having trouble paying rent, contact your landlord as soon as possible to discuss your payment options. Here are some tips for talking with your landlord. Be open about your financial situation, share how your income has been affected by COVID-19 or other difficulties. Be clear about your needs and keep in mind, your landlord may be struggling financially, too. Explain how your family would be impacted by a loss of housing, even if it's temporary. Ask for flexible payment arrangements or payment plans. Keep a written record of your conversations, including any email and text conversations, also keep track of the dates and times when you spoke.

Emergency Rental Assistance
State and local programs are distributing billions of dollars in rental assistance through Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) programs. ERA programs help you pay rent and utilities, during the COVID-19 Pandemic, by providing funding to states, territories, local governments and tribes. You can apply to an ERA program, if you have experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19 and need help staying in your home. Both tenants and landlords (acting on behalf of a tenant), can apply. ERA funds will help you to stay in your current home or find new rental housing.

You can search for an Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program on the U.S. Department of Treasury’s website by state, territory, or tribe at: https://home.treasury.gov

Note: You should also check with your city or county for additional ERA programs, since some may not be listed on the Treasury’s website. For more detailed information on ERA programs and the rental assistance available to you, visit CFPB’s website at: https://www.consumerfinance.gov

Local Assistance
Broward County has received $53 million in federal funding for its Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), which for eligible residents, provides 100 percent of past due rent and utility payments, as far back as March 2020. Up to 12 months of assistance for past due rent, is available for eligible residents who have experienced financial hardship, are at risk of eviction, homelessness and up to three months of future payments, to provide housing stability.

Residents behind on their rent and utility balances due to a COVID-19 financial hardship, are encouraged to submit an application for Emergency Rental Assistance. Three new customer service centers offer in-person assistance, if necessary or desired and an appointment, is required.

While completing the application does not guarantee the renter will receive assistance or that the landlord won’t begin eviction proceedings, it is likely to deter landlords, who would rather not go through the eviction process, if their tenant has submitted an application for assistance and is waiting to hear if they qualify.

To schedule an appointment at an in-person service center, call: 800-204-0557. An agent will help applicants, to ensure they have all of the required documentation to complete the process. Applicants who are missing documentation, will be given a checklist and be asked to return with the proper documentation. Locations for in-person assistance include:

Housing Foundation of America
2400 North University Drive, Suite 200
Pembroke Pines, Florida 33024

Housing Foundation of America
1773 North State Road 7, Suite 101-D
Lauderhill, Florida 33313

Crisis Housing Solutions (at the Northwest Family Success Center)
10077 Northwest 29th Street
Coral Springs, Florida 33065

An on-line application option, is available and encouraged, for faster response. To apply online, visit: Broward.org/RentAssistance or call: 888-692-7203 for assistance over the phone in English, Spanish and Creole, Monday through Friday, from 8AM to 5PM. Tenants or landlords who have already filed an application can also call: 888-692-7203 to check the status of their application. Please have the case number, handy.

Tenants and landlords are encouraged to work together to complete the application process. Rental assistance funds will be paid to either the tenant or the landlord. Utility assistance payments, will be paid directly to the utility provider.

As of the end of June, in Broward County, 4,600 individuals have completed the application process and another 6,300 have started the process, but have not yet, completed it.

“We have funds available and a program in place to help,” said Broward County Family Success Assistant Director, Natalie Beasley. “We will continue to accept applications, but strongly encourage, those who have started the application process and not completed it, to do so, as soon as possible.” For more information, visit: Broward.org/RentAssistance

Hallandale Beach Senior Rental Assistance Program
In order to assist seniors during the Pandemic, the city of Hallandale Beach Community Redevelopment Agency, has created The Senior Rental And Utility Assistance Program. The program provides assistance to senior households within the Hallandale Beach Community Redevelopment Agency boundaries who spend more than 30% of their total income on housing costs and are income eligible.

This program provides, up to $100 a month toward rental or utility expenses, for up to six months. Applicants must be income-eligible (50% Area Median Income), senior households (age 60+), reside within the HBCRA boundaries and spend more than 30%, of the household’s income, on housing costs.

If you meet these qualifications, you can download the application at: https://cohbcra.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/HBCRA-Senior-Rental-Utility-Assistance-Application.pdf

You can also contact, the Hallandale Beach Community Redevelopment Agency at: 954-457-1422.

Be Aware of Scams
Scam artists, often offer fake help to people in crises. This includes scams on the COVID-19 Vaccine, fake charities, false unemployment claims, people posing as someone in need, among other types of fraud. They do this to steal your money or your personal information. Be wary of people selling access to government goods and services. Always check the legitimacy of offers and don’t feel pressured to “take immediate action.” The best way to protect yourself, is to say "no" if anyone contacts you and asks for your personal information such as your Social Security Number, Bank Account Information, Medicare ID or even, Driver’s License Numbers.