ALABAMA, USA — If you are one of the thousands of people in Alabama struggling to pay rent during the pandemic, there is help available for you.
On Monday, applications opened for Alabama's Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
The program is funded by a $263 million grant under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 and is being administered by the Alabama Housing Finance Authority.
If you apply and are approved, you can get money to help pay current and past due bills, as far back as March 13, 2020.
AHFA Multifamily Administrator, David Young, says to get this help, applicants must prove they have been impacted by the pandemic and have an income at or below 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI), as defined by AHFA.
According to the Emergency Rental Assistance website, to qualify for this assistance, one or more of the tenant household members have:
- Qualified for unemployment benefits; OR
- Attest in writing that due to or during the pandemic, they:
- Experienced a reduction in household income,
- Incurred significant costs, or
- Experienced financial hardship
- AND Households must also demonstrate they:
- Are at risk of homelessness or housing instability by providing an eviction notice or past-due utility or rent notice; OR
- Live in unsafe or unhealthy housing conditions
- The unit you are renting must be your primary residence and be located within the State of Alabama.
Click here to help determine if you are eligible.
The application is online. Applicants will need proof of income and a valid rental agreement. Click here to begin the application process.
If you need help filling out the application, call 1-833-620-2434.
Applicants can only apply for three months of help at a time, but once approved, people can apply for three more months of assistance if there is still money left.
"Their initial application can include all past due rents inclusive of past due utility statements through the current period," said Young. "Then from there they can apply in the future on a three month rolling basis only up to receiving a total of fifteen months assistance."
The program prioritizes people based on the most need. Both landlords and renters can apply.
For tenants applying directly, they can either fill out the application themselves and the system will prompt their landlord for information, or they can work with their landlord to apply on their behalf using the landlord application.
"A tenant can actually log in and start filling out their application," said Young. "It will ask about their landlord, and then their landlord can separately go in without the tenant and log their tenant in to receive assistance, and then they can assist that tenant in completing that application."
There are separate rental assistant funds for certain areas. Huntsville and Madison County are two of them. If you live in these areas, you can apply for either the state or local program but not both.
"We are willing to accept applications until the City of Huntsville and Madison County are able to stand up their programs," said Young.
District 6 Madison County Commissioner Violet Edwards says they will announce how to apply for Madison County's program on Wednesday.
The AHFA is asking people who apply for the state's Emergency Rental Assistance program to be patient.
Applications opened Monday morning at 8:00 am, and by noon they already had 4,900 tenant applications and over 800 landlord requests.
WATCH: AHFA Multifamily Administrator, David Young, talks more about Alabama's Emergency Rental Assistance Program