Today MaineHousing announced expanded eligibility for the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program, increasing both the potential number of Maine people who can receive help paying their rent and utilities and the number of months they may receive assistance.
The following changes will be effective at noon on Monday, August 2:
- Updating one of the eligibility requirements from having financial difficulty because of the pandemic to during the pandemic.
- Increasing the total number of months a household can receive assistance from 15 months to 18 months.
“These program changes mean more Maine people could get the help they need for a longer period of time. We’ve heard from tenants and landlords alike that this program is truly making a difference to help keep people housed,” said Daniel Brennan, director of MaineHousing. “ERA is helping take care of rent and utility bills that have weighed on people for months. We hope this assistance gives them some stability, which is so desperately needed right now.”
The program expansions come just before the federal eviction moratorium expires on July 31, 2021. To help round out the benefits the ERA program provides, MaineHousing is funding Pine Tree Legal Assistance and Legal Services for the Elderly to provide legal representation for tenants facing eviction.
“Often, a third party can help resolve disputes and help stabilize good tenants,” Brennan noted. “This is another way we are helping tenants remain housed and by extension, helping landlords get the money they’re owed.”
The program changes are a result of both the American Rescue Plan Act, which provided additional funding for emergency rental assistance, and the U.S. Treasury Department’s updated guidelines for the program.
Those who have applied and were approved for the program AND those who have applied and have yet to hear back do not need to take any further action regarding their application. Maine’s Community Action Agencies (CAAs), the organizations that run the ERA program throughout Maine, will automatically apply any updates to existing applicants. CAAs will also reach out to applicants whose applications were denied because they did not meet previous eligibility requirements related to financial difficulties.
The program, which launched on March 1 earlier this year, has helped 9,286 Maine households with $46.2 million in paid and approved funding.
Updated application and program information will be available in nine languages at noon on Monday at mainehousing.org/covidrent. People with application-specific questions can contact their local CAA. Anyone who has general program questions or who would like to request a paper application can call MaineHousing at 1-800-452-4668.
MaineHousing has helped Maine people own, rent, repair, and heat their homes since 1969. MaineHousing is an independent state authority created to address the problems of unsafe, unsuitable, overcrowded, and unaffordable housing. MaineHousing is a $1.8 billion financial institution with a staff of over 160 people. MaineHousing assists more than 90,000 Maine households and invests more than $300 million in the Maine economy annually.