Learn About Emergency Funds Options 2

You can apply for emergency rent assistance grants from a federally established program if you need financial assistance to stay in your home. The Emergency Rental Assistance program provides funds if you prove you qualify and the program still has resources. The Emergency Rental Assistance program only provides temporary cash help, like other emergency efforts. 

If you need grants for rent assistance on a long-term basis, then you may want to look into other programs. Non-emergency grants for renting can help reduce your monthly payment if you have a qualifying low income. The government may offer a monthly voucher to make your rent more affordable or it may provide housing for a rental price that is less than the average.

Asking for Emergency Rent Assistance

The ERA was a large part of the 2020 COVID-19 relief package that aimed to help rental tenants experiencing a financial crisis. According to the Treasury Department, as of the end of 2022, nearly $10.8 million worth of rent assistance payments were disbursed to renters experiencing financial need.

ERA payments help cover a portion of housing costs so renters can stay in their homes and pay their bills. In fact, a study on evictions published by the Treasury department found that the ERA program – alongside other pandemic-era legislation – helped prevent over 1 million Americans from getting evicted in 2021.

Some of the bills that ERA funds can help cover include the following:

  • Rent.
  • Application fees and security deposits. 
  • Hotel and motel rooms. 
  • Internet services. 
  • Moving expenses. 
  • Utilities and energy costs. 

The ERA grants for renting are locally administered, typically by states or counties, so the application method varies by area. For instance, you – the tenant – can apply directly in some states, while other areas require your landlord to request funds on your behalf. 

Note that some states may close ERA applications if they’ve run out of funds or have received a large number of applications. Typically, notices like these would be posted on the state or county’s ERA webpage.

Likewise, the eligibility requirements are different by area too. Your income must be low compared to the area’s median income (AMI) where you live. Generally, a qualifying income is less than 80 or 50 percent of the local AMI. 

But the ERA program does not just help by providing money to qualified applicants. Since its creation, the program has inspired states and local municipalities to create their own forms of legislation to protect tenants from eviction and unfair rent hikes.

For example, using federal funds provided through the ERA program, the state of Oregon created and oversees the Eviction Prevention Rapid Response Program. This program helps identify potential housing crises and step in.

There are other non-emergency rental assistance options to consider, like the Housing Choice Voucher and public housing programs. Both are government programs that can reduce your monthly payment. 

  • HCV is also known as Section 8. It can pay a portion of your rent directly to your landlord, and you pay the remaining reduced amount. 
  • Public housing, on the other hand, simply offers housing at a lower amount than the market value. The government owns public housing, so it can charge a rent that is a lesser amount than landlords with private rental units.

Both government programs are dependent on the government’s resources. Since there is often a higher need for assistance than funds, it can take weeks, months or years to receive rental help in certain areas. 

You may also find help from local charity organizations. For instance, Salvation Army rental assistance is short-term and for emergency situations. Eligibility for nonprofits depends on local requirements and can vary by individual locations.

After rent, groceries are often the next highest monthly household expense. If you need money to feed your family, you might want to look into the next list of programs.