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 pandemic emergency rent relief program, ERA, was part of the 2020 COVID-19 relief package to help rental tenants experiencing a financial crisis. Funds could help cover some of their housing costs, so they could stay in their homes and pay their bills. 

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 first ERA package was for $25 billion, and the second ERA package was for $21.55 billion, for a total of $46.55 billion. As of November 2022, the government issued about $33.02 billion of these funds to qualified applicants. 

The ERA grants for renting are locally administered, 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. 

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. 

The non-emergency rental assistance options are 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.