Rental Assistance in COVID-19 Relief Package

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NAHB worked with lawmakers to include a robust rental relief component in the new economic stimulus legislation that will allow landlords to request rental assistance on behalf of their tenants.** The package includes $25 billion for rental assistance covering rent, utilities and arrears through an NAHB-supported flexible spending program similar to the Coronavirus Relief Fund called the Emergency Rental Assistance program.

Key details:

  • Funds will be available for 12 months of rent, utilities and arrears with a possible three-month extension.
  • Applications will be for a three-month period, and if at the time of application, the tenant only lists their current month's income they must resubmit the application every three months with updated income information for any additional assistance.
  • There will be no assistance given for prospective rent unless funding has also been provided to reduce arrears.

Flexibility for States and Localities

Administered through the Treasury Department, funding will go directly to states or large local governments. This gives the states and localities flexibility in how the funding is delivered and will allow states that already have a rental assistance program to continue with their current structure. Compared to the HUD Emergency Solutions Grant proposal, this gives states and local governments greater flexibility to choose what works best for them.

Protections for Property Owners

In a big win for NAHB, there are guardrails for funding that would require payment to go directly to the property or utility company, and landlords may request rental assistance on behalf of their tenants. If the landlord wants to request assistance on behalf of their tenant they must:

  • Obtain a signature from the tenant on the application (can be electronic);
  • Share documentation of the application with the tenant; and
  • Ensure any funds obtained from the application are used towards rent or arrears.

If the property owner refuses direct funding assistance, the payment will then go directly to the household.

Eligible Households

An eligible household is defined as one of the following:

  • One or more individuals within the household has qualified for unemployment or has experienced a significant reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship due to COVID-19.
  • One or more individuals within the household can demonstrate risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability, which may include:
    • Past due utility, rent, or eviction notice
    • Unsafe or unhealthy living conditions, or
    • Any other evidence determined by the grantee (state or locality)
  • Household with an Area Median Income (AMI) of 80% or below.

The funding is geared to households that are 50% of AMI or lower and capped at 80% AMI. There is also a preference given if one or more individuals in a household has been unemployed for at least 90 days at the time of the application. However, only current income is considered to better target those who have had significant financial impacts from COVID-19.

This legislation extends the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium until Jan. 31, 2021.

Current Coronavirus Relief Funds that provide funding for states and local governments to combat COVID-19 and the economic impact of the pandemic were extended another 12 months through Dec. 31, 2021.

** The Treasury Department will need to release guidance to the states on the application process and it's possible that each state may have its own application. NAHB will update this page and share it with membership when more information is known, likely not until early 2021.

Email boardtopics@nahb.org with any questions regarding the Emergency Rental Assistance program.

Question About the Rental Assistance Program? If you are a property owner/landlord and have a question about the implementation of the rental assistance program, please let us know.
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