There are many ways for individuals and families to receive financial assistance in the US Virgin Islands. This article covers financial assistance in the US Virgin Islands for housing, energy, and phone bills. For information on assistance with food, bills, or cash, check out this Low Income Relief article.
Rental Assistance in the US Virgin Islands
The Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) is designed to help residents of the US Virgin Islands to pay rent and/or utility bills. If you have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and are unable to pay bills dating as early as March 2020, ERAP might be able to help.
Payments from this program will be made directly to the utility company or landlord who is owed money, rather than to the applicant.
If your household owes at least one month of rent, a utility bill, or you anticipate that you will need rental assistance in the near future, you may be eligible for ERAP. Additionally:
- A head or co-head of household must have lost income due to COVID-19.
- There is a possibility that one or more household members may become homeless due to non-payment of rent.
- The household’s income is at or below 80% of annual area median income. You can check your income eligibility using this chart.
This program is not for those seeking assistance with mortgage payments. Also, you do not need to demonstrate legal immigration status for this program.
What you need to apply
In order to apply for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program in the US Virgin Islands, you will need a number of documents, including:
- Your landlord’s name, mailing address, and telephone number
- A statement of rent owed or an eviction notice from your landlord
- A signed copy of your lease/rental agreement
- The birth certificates OR Real ID Driver’s Licenses for all household members
- Social Security cards for all household members
- Proof of US Virgin Island residency (utility bill or ID card)
- Past due notice showing utilities owed (electric and/or water bills)
- Copy of 2019 tax return (if applicable)
- Proof of household income status (as applicable)
- Unemployment insurance statement
- Job letter
- Letter showing that you have been furloughed or layed off from your job
- At least 2 months worth of paystubs from your job, if you have one
- Social Security benefit letter
How to apply?
You can apply for ERAP by downloading the application, and then submitting it in person, by email, or through an online portal.
The application for ERAP can be downloaded here.
To submit your application in person, you can call one of the US Virgin Islands intake centers to make an appointment.
Energy Assistance in the US Virgin Islands
If you are struggling to pay your energy bills, an energy assistance program launched in response to the COVID-19 pandemic might be able to help.
If your household is eligible for the program, your electric bills will be paid on alternating months, and gas bills will be paid twice yearly. In other words, this program will not cover 100% of your energy bills, but it can help save you some money if paying energy bills is difficult right now.
- Recipients must be US citizens or permanent resident aliens residing in the US Virgin Islands.
- The income level for a household of one cannot be more than $25,000 per year. The income level for a household of two or more cannot exceed $40,000 per year.
What you need to apply
- A social security number. If you do not have one, you will be asked to apply for one.
- A current or past due electric bill.
- Proof of income for all adult household members.
How to apply
The application for the US Virgin Islands energy crisis assistance program is available here. To submit your application, call the Department of Human Services office near you for more information.
To contact the office on St. Thomas, call: (340) 774-0930
To contact the office on St. Croix, call: (340) 718-2980
To contact the office on St. John, call: (340) 776-6334
Phone Assistance in the US Virgin Islands
Another helpful program for residents of the US Virgin Islands is called Lifeline. Lifeline is a federal government program that helps pay phone bills of those who are struggling to make ends meet. While this program does not prevent disconnection of your phone service when your bill is past due, this program can help you avoid getting to the point where your service is about to be disconnected.
This service is provided directly by participating phone companies, and applications are not submitted to a government office. This service can be used for either home phone service or wireless/cell phone service. If you apply the discount to your landline, you will receive a monthly credit on your phone bill of $19.80. If you apply the discount to your wireless/cell phone service, you will receive a monthly credit of $9.25. Some wireless carriers will accept the $9.25 as a full monthly payment.
In addition to being a resident of the US Virgin Islands, participants in Lifeline programs must be 18 years or older and be a head of household. Household income must not exceed $25,000 per year for a household of one person, and must not exceed $40,000 per year for a household of two or more persons.
How to apply
Unlike other financial assistance programs like the rental and energy assistance programs described above, applications for Lifeline are not submitted through a government office.
In the US Virgin Islands, many companies, including Broadband VI, Choice Wireless, Viya, Liberty Mobile, Metro by T-Mobile, and more, participate in Lifeline. To find out which phone carriers near you are participating in Lifeline, search your zip code here.
Typically, you just have to contact a participating phone company and demonstrate your need for assistance by providing documentation of another type of government assistance you receive, such as SNAP or TANF.
If you require financial assistance in the US Virgin Islands, help is available. Check out this article from Low Income Relief for more information on financial assistance in the US Virgin Islands.