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Huntsville Emergency Rental Assistance Phase II now open

The city said the 'strong support' and partnership with local nonprofits will help people in need of rental assistance.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Some good news for you if you’ve fallen on tough times to pay rent. The city of Huntsville is now accepting applicants for rental and utility assistance.

FOX54 News Keneisha Deas has a look at some of the changes with this round of funds and how you can apply.

Family Services Center is a partner agency and Catholic Center for Concern, and then we’re still looking at adding one or two additional on top of that,” said Huntsville Community Development Manager, Scott Erwin.

Family Services Center is the newest agency added to phase two. Erwin said these organizations will help with outreach.

“Two is a little different than one was. We've got our feet underneath us. We've got strong support among our agencies and we've got a strong process in place that we can employ going forward,” said Erwin.

Erwin said one of the challenges from phase one was who is eligible for rental assistance.

“That was and continues to be somewhat of a challenge, but that’s part of the federal regulations. There’s accountability to this program and that was what we’re trying to make sure we adhere to the federal regulations at the same addressing those with the greatest needs,” said Erwin.

This round Erwin said they’ll point people who aren’t eligible in the right direction. “I think we've learned a lot on how we can better do that and how we can better educate who was eligible and if you're not eligible, what are the resources you may reach out for."

With the cost of rent rising, assistance couldn't have at a better time. “The good jobs and the high-quality living but at the same time, many come here looking for opportunities and I have a difficult time finding it. So community development works with our local nonprofit partner partners, tO provide resources for the population who has who has critical crises situations,” said Scott.

More details on ERAP:

Phase II of the City’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), funded by the U.S. Department of Treasury, launched Dec. 13, 2021, to assist local households suffering hardships related to COVID-19.

Funds are available to help tenants pay current, past-due and up to three months of future rent, utility and home energy costs. The goal of the program is to prevent housing instability, avoid evictions and offer financial relief to at-risk tenants and landlords.

Community Development Manager Scott Erwin, whose department administers the funds, is excited to offer up to $4.7 million in emergency assistance to those in need. City Council unanimously approved the second round of program funding in mid-November.

“We’re thrilled to be able to open round two of the ERAP just before Christmas,” Erwin said. “We know many citizens are still struggling to get back on their feet and encourage those who are behind on or unable to make payments to apply to the program.”

Who qualifies?

Program guidelines for round two have changed. To qualify, households must have an income at or below 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI). One or more household members must also have qualified for unemployment benefits or can attest in writing they had a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs or experienced financial hardships due to COVID-19.

Additionally, households must demonstrate they are at risk of homelessness, housing instability or live in unsafe or unhealthy housing conditions to qualify. The program is only open to those whose rental property is their primary residence in Huntsville.

Designated community partners will review and commit funds to applicants who meet one of the priority groups below:

  • Have incomes below 50% AMI
  • Households where one or more household members are unemployed as of the date applied for assistance and one or more household members (this can be the same household member) were unemployed for 90 days prior to the date you apply for assistance
  • Applicant is in the eviction process

Those who have already received ERAP funds are not eligible for additional funding under the new guidelines.

How to apply

Visit HuntsvilleAL.gov/COVID-19-Emergency-Rental-Assistance to get started. Those without internet access may dial 2-1-1 to speak with a trained operator.

Both tenants and landlords may apply, but the same documentation proving COVID-19-related hardship suffered by the tenant will be required. Unpaid rent or utility bills cannot precede March 13, 2020.

For more information, visit the City’s website or email covidhelp@huntsvilleal.gov for assistance.

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