These 26 States Have Pandemic Rent Assistance Programs. Here’s How to Apply
Thanks to the recent eviction moratorium, most Americans no longer have to be worried about being evicted — at least until January.
But a stall on evictions doesn’t mean you don’t owe rent. Luckily, if you need help paying rent, there are assistance programs available across the country.
These 26 States Offer Rental Assistance Programs
The federal government gave CARES money to each state, allowing states to decide how the funding was ultimately distributed. These states decided to use some of that money for a rental assistance program. Almost all of them require you to be at least one month behind on rent.
As you read your state’s requirements, bear in mind that your living situation can affect your eligibility. For example, in some states, having a roommate can bump up your max monthly benefit.
If you both have individual, written obligations to your landlord, you could potentially both qualify for the max benefit in some states, allowing you to pay your landlord twice the back rent.
Find your state here: Arizona | Colorado | Delaware | Florida | Hawai’i | Idaho | Iowa | Kentucky | Maine | Massachusetts | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Montana | Nevada | New Hampshire | North Dakota | Oregon | Pennsylvania | South Carolina | Utah | Vermont | Virginia | Washington | Wisconsin | Wyoming
The COVID-10 Rental Eviction Prevention Assistance Program is open to those who have experienced a 10%+ reduction in income due to the pandemic.
- Income limits: Income limits vary by county.
- Max benefit per month: You must pay 30% of your gross monthly income to your landlord for rent. The state will cover the difference between 30% of your income and the actual rent due, up to $2,000/month.
- Max benefit per household: Arizona appears to have no cap on the number of months you can apply for assistance, though you will have to wait 30 days between applications.
- Who applies? The tenant can apply online or by phone by calling 2-1-1.
Nearly $3.9 million in assistance has been disbursed as of Sept. 14, 2020, with over $14 million requested by renters. Funding for the program is $127 million. Funding must be distributed by Dec. 30, 2020.
Colorado has two, CARES-funded rental assistance programs. On Sept. 8, 2020, the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (CDOLA) reported a remaining $18.6 million of the initial $30 million in funding. Funding must be distributed by Dec. 30, 2020.
“We project that all funds will be expended by then if not sooner,” says Natriece Bryant of CDOLA.
Property Owner Protection Program
The Property Owner Protection (POP) program requires landlords to apply on behalf of their tenants.
- Max benefit per month: The max benefit will vary depending on your county and the size of the rental unit. If the amount of rent you charge is above the POP program maximums, you are not eligible for this program.
- Max benefit per household: Eligible units may qualify for full rental assistance during the time period between March 1, 2020, and Dec. 30, 2020, without an explicit cap.
- Who applies? The landlord will turn the final application in to the state, but the tenant does have to fill out a form certifying their financial hardship.
Emergency Housing Assistance Program
Tenants in Colorado can apply for rental assistance through the Emergency Housing Assistance Program (EHAP).
- Max benefit per month: The max benefit can be as high as $2,686, though this number can be far smaller depending on your county of residence and the size of the rental unit. The max benefit is either 100% of your rent or 100% of the area’s fair market rate — whichever is less.
- Max benefit per household: Eligible units may qualify for full rental assistance during the time period between March 1, 2020 and Dec. 30, 2020 without an explicit cap.
- Who applies? The tenant must apply through one of the state’s contracted local agencies. You can locate such an agency by calling 2-1-1 or using 211 Colorado’s search tool.
Colorado’s EHAP has paid out over $1.8 million to at least 786 households as of Sept. 8, 2020.
Earlier in the year, Delaware temporarily shuttered its rental assistance program. But on Aug. 10, 2020, the program was reinvigorated with $40 million in CARES Act funding.
- Income limit: Your current income must be at or below 60% of your county’s median income.
- Max benefit: You can receive up to $5,000 in rental assistance from this program for months going back to March 1, 2020. You can only apply once, and you can apply for future rent for one month. If you utilized Delaware’s program before it closed earlier in the year, you are an exception to the rule, and are allowed to apply again.
- Who applies? Your landlord will apply on your behalf.
Florida chose to distribute its CARES rental assistance across local government agencies. As of Sept. 10, 2020, there are 120 programs across the state at the county and city level.
- Income limits: Because each locality was given much freedom in how it chose to run its rental assistance program, income limits vary across the state. The state has set income limits by county, but local limits may be even lower.
- Max benefits: For the same reason, max benefits vary across the state, as well.
- Who applies? Tenants can apply by visiting the state’s rent and mortgage relief information page, and then contacting their local housing agency.
Local agencies have disbursed more than $68 million as of Sept. 10, 2020, leaving a remaining $52 million. This money must be disbursed by Dec. 30, 2020. Florida Housing has reported it is not aware of any additional potential funding in the future.
Hawai’i has two rental assistance programs related to the COVID-19 pandemic: One funded through CARES dollars, and another funded through Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grants.
State of Hawai’i Rent Relief and Housing Assistance Program
The Rent Relief and Housing Assistance Program (RRHAP) is open to full-time residents of the state of Hawaii who are over the age of 18. This program is funded through the CARES Act.
- Income limits: 100% of the HUD area median income. That is $75,200 in Hawaii County, $101,600 in Honolulu County, $97,500 in Kalawao and Maui Counties, and $101,800 in Kauai County.
- Max benefit per month: The max monthly rent covered by the RRHAP is $2,000 on Oahu Island or $1,500 on neighboring islands.
- Max benefit per household: Rent assistance is available for a max of five months, for rent due between August 1, 2020 and December 28, 2020.
- Who applies? Renters can learn how to apply at HIHousingHelp.com.
Funding expires Dec. 28, 2020, and the state does not expect further funding.
Department of Hawaiian Homelands COVID-19 Rental Assistance Program
The Department of Hawaiian Homelands (DHHL) received Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grants to fund its rental assistance program.
To qualify for this program, you must be native Hawaiian as defined by the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act. You must have been on DHHL’s Waiting List as of Dec. 31, 2018. You must also be able to prove that your income has gone down as a result of the pandemic.
- Income limits: You must make 80% or less of the area median income level for your county. This number will vary based on your household size.
- Max benefit per month: Tenants must pay 30% of their income towards rent. DHHL’s program will then pay the difference between the tenant contribution and the max rent — up to the county-wide fair market rates.
- Max household benefit: Eligible households can receive assistance for up to six months.
- Who applies? Tenants can get the process started by calling 2-1-1.
The program opened in May 2020, and it is unclear if the initial $7 million in funding will last for its intended 12-month duration.
“If it appears our beneficiary community has a need for the program,” says Cedric Duarte of DHHL, “the Department will seek additional funds.”
As of Aug. 9, 2020, the program had approved 63 applicants with another 126 pending further documentation.
If your income has been affected by circumstances surrounding COVID-19, you may qualify for Idaho’s Housing Preservation Program.
- Income limits: Income limits are 80% of your area’s median income.
- Max benefit per month: There is no explicit max amount of assistance per month.
- Max household benefit: Initially, households can qualify for three months of assistance. If the negative economic effects of the pandemic persist for your household, you may be eligible for up to six months of assistance total.
- Who applies? Tenants apply using the state’s portal.
As of Sept. 8, 2020, the program has administered over $3.8 million of the available $15 million in assistance, supporting 4,857 Idaho residents.
“We anticipate there will be adequate funding through December,” says the Idaho Housing and Finance Association. The deadline to disburse CARES funding is Dec. 30, 2020 at latest.
The COVID-19 Iowa Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Program is open to Iowans who are at risk of eviction due to pandemic-related loss of income.
- Income limits: Your current income must be 80% of your county’s median family income or lower.
- Max benefit: You can apply for rental assistance for up to four months, starting with amounts overdue on or after April 1, 2020. The max rental assistance you can receive overall is $3,200.
- Who applies? The tenant applies, first completing an eligibility assessment. The landlord will be required to verify the application within 10 days.
Iowa’s program had about $20 million in available funding. Of that $20 million, the state has paid out $9.3 million in rental assistance to over 3,782 households as of Sept. 8, 2020.
- Income limits: Your current income must be at or below 80% of your area median income.
- Max benefit per month: The state will pay 90% of the rent due, requiring your landlord to forgive the remaining 10%. The max the program pays is 150% of fair market rent.
- Max benefit per household: The max assistance you may qualify for is 90% of your back rent currently owed plus two months of future rent up to $6,500. You can only receive assistance once.
- Who applies? Either the landlord or the tenant can initiate the application process via the online portal.
On Sept., 8, 2020, the program launched with $15 million of CARES funding. The state has chosen to only accept applications through Dec. 10, 2020 — if the money lasts that long.
Currently, Maine has a rent relief program. Its existence is tenuous, though, with MaineHousing — the state housing authority — expecting to exhaust current funding in either the coming weeks of September 2020 or October 2020. However, applications are still open as of writing.
- Income eligibility: Income limits vary by county and household size. The housing authority provides an income limit table.
- Max benefit per month: The max amount of rental assistance per month is $1,000.
- Max benefit per household: Households can qualify for up to three months of rental assistance.
- Who applies? Tenants apply through their local Maine Community Action Partnership office.
“MaineHousing has requested additional resources from Maine’s Coronavirus Relief Fund,” a representative of the agency says. “This request is being considered, and we do not know if we will receive additional funds.”
Massachusetts has two programs that help with rental assistance: Rental Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) and Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance (ERMA). Your income will determine which one you qualify for.
- Income limits: Your current income must currently be between 50% and 80% of your area median income to qualify for the ERMA program. If you are below 50%, you will qualify for Massachusetts’ RAFT program.
- Max benefit: Each household can qualify for up to $4,000 in total rental assistance. You can qualify for rent due April 1, 2020, or after.
- Who applies? The tenant initiates the application process by contacting their local Housing Consumer Education Center.
The RAFT program received $5 million in CARES funding, and ERMA received $20 million in CARES Act dollars.
Michigan’s Eviction Diversion Program (EDP) does not cover 100% of what you owe to your landlord. In order to participate, your landlord must agree to forgive all late fees and at least 10% of the rent owed. In exchange, they’ll receive a lump sum payment for arrears.
- Income eligibility: You must make 100% or less of your area median income.
- Max benefit per household: Maximum assistance varies, but can be as high as $4,700.
- Who applies? Tenants can start the application process by contacting their local Housing Assessment and Resource Agency, and getting more background information via the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA). Landlords will need to be involved in the application process.
The program is funded using CARES Act dollars, which means they expire Dec. 30, 2020.
“It is possible the funds will be expended prior to that,” says the MSHDA.
Minnesota’s COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program opened last month with $100 million in CARES Act funding.
- Income eligibility: You must make less than 300% the Federal Poverty Line (FPL).
- Max benefit per household: There are no explicit monthly or lifetime household benefits for this program. If you can prove rent is overdue, the entire expense may qualify regardless of dollar amount. You can apply for assistance for a period covering March 1, 2020 to Dec. 30, 2020.
- Who applies? The tenant initiates the application process by calling 2-1-1, visiting 211unitedway.org, or texting “MNRENT” or “MNHOME” to 898-211.
As of Sept. 4, 2020, $17 million in assistance has been requested by 13,160 households in Minnesota. About 3,300 applications are being verified for initial payments.
It’s too early for the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency to gauge when or if funds will run out before the intended program end date, but they do expire on December 30, 2020.
The Rental Assistance for Mississippians Program (RAMP) received a total of $8 million in CARES funding, which must be disbursed by Dec. 30, 2020 — if the funding lasts that long.
Montana’s Emergency Housing Assistance Program initially came with some high barriers, including a $10,0000 asset test. These strict requirements have been removed as of Sept. 1, 2020, though, making the program accessible to a larger number of state residents.
- Income limits: Depending on the size of your household, you can make up to $75,000 and $125,000/year and still qualify for this program.
- Max benefit per month: You must pay 25% of your income towards rent. After that, the state will pick up the rest of the bill up to $2,000 per month. If you qualify, the minimum this program pays is $250.
- Max benefit per household: As long as you financially qualify, you can apply for rental assistance for as many months as you need. Rent payments due April 1, 2020 through Dec. 30, 2020 are eligible.
- Who applies? The tenant can apply for multiple COVID-19-related programs at once using the state’s portal.
Governor Steve Bullock allocated $50 million in CARES funding toward the Emergency Housing Assistance program, and there’s still almost $47 million in assistance available.
As of Sept. 8, 2020, Montana Housing reported 72% of all 2,536 submitted applications processed, with about half of the processed applications qualifying for assistance.
In addition to proving financial hardship linked to the pandemic, Nevada’s CARES Housing Assistance Program (CHAP) comes with a $3,000 liquid asset test. Things like a savings account or cash in your wallet can count towards this test. If you have $3,000 or more, you will not qualify.
- Income limits: If you pass the asset test, your current income can be up to 120% of your area median income.
- Max benefit per household: Eligible households can apply for up to nine months of rental assistance.
- Who applies? The tenant applies by getting in touch with one of the participating agencies in their county.
Unless CHAP receives additional funding from non-CARES sources in addition to its $30 million in CARES Act funding, the money must be disbursed by Dec. 30, 2020.
New applications are currently paused in Clark County, though residents in other parts of the state can still apply.
New Hampshire’s housing assistance program offers aid to both those who have experienced a loss of income during the pandemic and those who have seen increased expenses thanks to the pandemic.
- Income limits: New Hampshire’s Program has no income limits.
- Max benefit per month: The max rental assistance you can receive per month is $2,500. You can apply for any past-due rent due April 1, 2020 or after.
- Max benefit per household: If your financial hardships continue, you can apply for rental assistance over the period of ‘a few months.’
- Who applies? The tenant applies at one of the five community action partnerships listed on the program’s homepage.
The program launched with $35 million CARES Act funds on July 1, 2020. If funding is not expended by Dec. 30, 2020, it will expire.
If you have lost income thanks to the pandemic, you may qualify for the Emergency Rent Bridge program as a North Dakota resident.
- Income limits: To qualify, you must make 60% of your area median income or less.
- Max benefit per month: You must pay 30% of your monthly income towards rent. The state will pay the remainder up to a set amount determined by your county and the size of the rental unit.
- Max benefit per household: If your financial situation doesn’t improve, you should receive an email on the 23rd of every month with action steps to apply for further assistance.
- Who applies? The tenant applies using the Emergency Rent Bridge application portal.
In North Dakota, the COVID-19 rental assistance program is funded through both CARES Act money and the state’s Department of Commerce. Because not all of the money comes from the CARES Act, the program may potentially be able to continue past Dec. 30, 2020, if the money doesn’t run out before then.
According to reporting by local CBS affiliate KX News, state officials say they are not worried about the funding being expended in the immediate future, though it will run out eventually.
Oregon’s program also received funding both from the CARES Act and the state’s General Funds. For that reason, it may be able to run its program a little longer than most other states.
While rental assistance may be available through January, all applications must be in by Dec. 30, 2020.
- Income eligibility: Tenants must be at or below 80% of their area median income.
- Max benefit per month: There is no max benefit per month. Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) reports that as of September 11, 2020, most households are receiving between $1,000 and $3,000 in assistance per month.
- Max benefit per household: State-wide, you can apply for assistance for any rent due between March 1, 2020 and Jan. 31, 2021, though the number of months you qualify for will vary by county. Particularly in areas where there are housing shortages, OHCS reports that some agencies are using the funding to pay not only for arrears, but for rent expenses into the future.
- Who applies? The tenant initiates the application process by calling 2-1-1 to be put in touch with their local participating Community Action Agency.
Of an original $50 million in CARES funding, $5.7 million has been reported as disbursed to residents as of Aug. 6, 2020. Of the $8.5 million in state funding, nearly $4.7 million has been reported as disbursed.
To qualify for Pennsylvania’ Rent Relief Program (RRP), you must be able to prove a reduction in income thanks to the pandemic. The reduction must be at least 30%.
- Income limits: Income limits vary depending on your county and household size.
- Max benefit per month: The state will pay a max of $750 to landlords. The landlord must agree to forgive any remaining rent, which has led many landlords to refuse to participate. Counties are allowed to pay additional funds to the landlord on top of the $750, but are not required to do so.
- Max benefit per household: You can qualify for up to six months of assistance, with a max benefit of $4,500.
- Who applies? Both the tenant and the landlord are active participants in the application process. Applicants in Allegheny and Philadelphia counties can complete the process online, while residents of all other counties must submit their paper applications to the proper county organization.
Pennsylvania has placed more restrictions on its program funding than most other states. While tenants can seek assistance for rent payments through Dec. 30, 2020, the money must be requested by Sept. 30, 2020. The state then has to disburse the money to the landlord by Nov. 30, 2020.
The funding is robust, with $150 million from the CARES Act, flexible up to $175 million. As of August 14, 2020 — a little over a month after the initial RRP launch — the state reported $465,442 of the funds disbursed, with a total of $37.7 million in aid requested.
To qualify for South Carolina’s rent assistance program, you must be able to prove a reduction in income after March 10, 2020 due to the pandemic.
- Income limits: Your current income must be at or below 80% of your area median income.
- Max benefit per household: The most you can receive is a one-time lump sum payment of $1,500. This payment must bring your rent current, or you cannot participate. If you owe more than $1,500, you must pay the difference yourself or seek help from other rental assistance programs.
- Who applies? The tenant applies online, though the landlord will need to fill out some of the paperwork.
Utah Rent Relief is open to those who have experienced a reduction in income thanks to the pandemic.
- Income eligibility: Your current income must be at or below 100% of your area median income. Utah has contracted with local partner agencies who can help you determine the median income for your area.
- Max benefit per month: The max benefit per month is $2,000 in Utah. You can use this assistance for rent, security deposits, utilities and late fees.
- Max benefit per household: You can apply for as many months as you’re experiencing financial hardship. The program does expire Dec. 30, 2020.
- Who applies? The tenant initiates the application process by calling 2-1-1 or the agency administering the program locally.
The program has received just under 2,000 applications as of Sept. 2, 2020. Early on, there were eligibility restrictions related to unemployment, but those restrictions have since been removed.
As of that same date, Utah had processed all but 365 of the applications it had received. There is $20 million in funding available, and as of the same date, only $1.7 million had been spent.
“We do not anticipate expending all the funds before the program ends Dec. 30, 2020,” says Christina Davis of the Department of Workforce Services.
This program is funded through the CARES Act, with funding expiring Dec. 30, 2020 — if the money doesn’t run out before then.
- Max benefit per month: This program will pay full rent up to Vermont State Housing Authority (VSHA) Payment Standards. Payment Standards vary depending on the county and size of the rental unit. If the landlord charges more than these standards, they must forgive the remaining balance between actual rent and VSHA Payment Standards.
- Who applies? Either the landlord or the tenant can initiate the application process. Either way, both will have to participate. If the landlord initiates the process and the tenant does not fill out their part of the application within 10 days, the landlord will still get half of the rental assistance. However, they won’t be bound to not evict the tenant as they would be if the tenant had participated.
To apply, landlords and tenants will need to email their applications to [email protected] VSHA stresses the need for communication between landlord and tenant while participating in this program, as miscommunications could result in incomplete applications, partial assistance or even denial altogether.
To qualify for Virginia’s Rent and Mortgage Relief Program (RMRP), you must have experienced an income loss due to the coronavirus pandemic.
- Income limits: Your income must currently be 80% of your area median income or less. Your rent cannot exceed 150% of fair market rent for your area. You can screen yourself for eligibility.
- Max benefits: There are no dollar caps on monthly assistance or on the number of months for which you can apply. You can apply for rent payments due April 1, 2020 through Dec. 30, 2020 — as long as the funding lasts that long.
- Who applies? The tenant starts the application process by calling 2-1-1.
Only $4.36 million has been disbursed in aid as of Aug. 26, 2020, but the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) does not anticipate the $50 million in allocated CARES funding to last through the RMRP expiration on Dec. 30, 2020. The state pursued solutions.
“In April, Governor Northam requested an additional $2.4 billion to Virginia in rent assistance…in the form of block grants for COVID-19,” says the DHCD. “Virginia is continuing to review funding opportunities to continue to support rent and mortgage relief.”
Technically, Washington’s Eviction Rent Assistance Program (ERAP) is open. However, this program is administered by local housing agencies. Some of these agencies have applications open, but others are still working on it.
When this program opens in your locality, these will be the guidelines:
- Income eligibility: Over the past 60 days, your income must be at or below 50% of the local area median income.
- Max benefit per month: The ERAP will cover up to 80% of your monthly rent payment, up to a max of the fair market rent in your area. The landlord is required to forgive the other 20%.
- Max benefit per household: You can qualify for up to three months of assistance, dating back to March 1, 2020.
- Who applies? The tenant applies by contacting their local participating housing agency. Landlord cooperation will be required — especially as they are required to forgive 20% of the rent.
The economic impact of the Coronavirus pandemic is not necessarily the determining factor in qualifying for aid. In addition to the requirements above, potential tenants must also meet at least one of these eligibility criteria:
- Rent is 50% or more of your current income.
- You were previously homeless in the past five years. Couchsurfing counts as homelessness.
- You have been evicted within the past seven years.
- The CDC defines you as high risk.
- Someone in your house is disabled. Washington’s definition of disability is wide.
This program is funded with CARES dollars, and will expire Dec. 30, 2020.
If your income has been affected by the pandemic, you may qualify for the Wisconsin Rental Assistance Program (WRAP).
- Income eligibility: Your current income must be 80% of your county median income.
- Max benefit per month: Eligible households can qualify for up to $1,000 in assistance per month.
- Max benefit per household: You can qualify for up to three months of assistance, for a total of $3,000.
- Who applies? The tenant initiates the application process by contacting their local Community Action Program.
Wisconsin allocated $25 million in CARES funding to WRAP, which must be disbursed by Dec. 30, 2020 — if funding does not run out before then.
The Wyoming Emergency Housing Assistance Program (WEHAP) administers rental assistance to those experiencing financial hardship related to the pandemic.
- Income limits: Income limits are quite high for WEHAP. The max you can bring in monthly is $20,833.
- Max benefit per month: While income limits are high, those at very high income levels may not benefit from this program. It requires you to pay 10% of your gross income towards rent. The state then covers the difference between what you paid and what you owe, up to $3,000.
- Who applies? The tenant applies online after prepping essential documentation.
Wyoming allocated $16 million of its CARES Act funding to WEHAP. Those dollars are only available through Dec. 30, 2020.
More Resources for Pandemic-Related Rental Assistance
If you don’t see your state above — or you don’t qualify for your state’s program — don’t give up hope.
Some states are offering rental assistance independent of the CARES Act. Others are giving a larger chunk of CARES Act money to local governments, allowing individual communities to decide if they want to use that funding for rental assistance.
If you’re not finding anything at the state or local level, consider nonprofits in your region. In most regions of the country, dialing 2-1-1 will connect you with your local United Way. Even if the United Way does not have a rental assistance program of its own in your area, the representative is likely to know about other nonprofits in your area who may be able to help.
Brynne Conroy is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.