North Central News

Help available for rent, utility bills

Residents who are having trouble paying their rent and utility costs can seek help due to a recent distribution of $51 million in new federal Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) dollars.

Mayor Kate Gallego and members of the Phoenix City Council recently approved that allotment of money to Phoenix residents. Last year the city distributed more than $29 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act help to more than 5,700 households. However, the COVID-19 pandemic is still causing problems for public health and the local economy.

The new ERA program is structured differently than the previous CARES Act program. With this new program eligible residents can receive up to 15 months of assistance with past due rent. There is no limit on the dollar amount of support but participants have to be recertified every three months. Utility assistance includes help covering past due and current residential, water, gas and electricity bills.

Gallego said the ERA dollars will “give our residents financial and emotional relief, and go a long way toward preventing homelessness.”

New research also suggests this type of assistance might help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Researchers at Duke University discovered a moratorium on local evictions could decrease the number of new COVID-19 infections and deaths, validating the value of keeping families in their homes.

Residents who apply for the ERA money must be earning less than $62,250 for a family of four and need to have sustained a decrease in household income because of the pandemic. This program does not cover mortgage payments but it does put a priority on families whose income is less than $38,900 for a family of four and who have been out of work for more than 90 days before applying for the help.

The city of Phoenix’s Human Services Department and the non-profit organization Wildfire are administering the program. Applications can be provided by phone or online. To learn more, visit www.phoenix.gov/humanservices/rental-assistance.

 

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