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If you need help with your rent, there are a number of rent assistance programs that you should know about. Additionally, you may be able to secure rental assistance grants outside of official government programs. It’s all about knowing where to look! So, let’s examine some of the best rental assistance programs and look at some of the easiest ways to come up with rent money as soon as possible.
Where to Find Rent Assistance Programs
There are two common resources for those who want to learn how to apply for family assistance: government programs and nonprofit organizations. There are hundreds of federal, state, and local programs to help out with housing costs. Additionally, there are many local, national, and international nonprofit charities and organizations that aim to help low-income families. So, let’s take a look at some of your best options for rent assistance:
Emergency Rental Assistance Program
The Emergency Rental Assistance Program is a federal program designed to help families who are temporarily unable to pay for housing costs. To be eligible for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, you must meet all of the following requirements:
- You qualify for unemployment OR you have experienced a recent financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
- Proof that you are at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability
- Your household income is at or below 80% of the median income in your area
As you can see, this program is designed for individuals and families in dire need of rental assistance. If you lost your job or your household income is below 50% of the median income in your area, the Emergency Rental Assistance Program will prioritize your case to get you funds as quickly as possible. Assuming that your household qualifies, you can receive up to 12 months of rental assistance, plus an additional 3 months if you’re still at risk of housing instability after one year. As a result, this is one of the best rent assistance programs available to low-income families.
National Low Income Housing Coalition
The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) is a non-profit organization that aims to end the current housing crisis in the United States. WIth the NLIHC, you can find rent assistance programs in your state, city, or district to help collect funds. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many state and local governments have ramped up their funding for low-income housing assistance. However, the requirements to qualify for loans or one-time payments vary from location to location. You can learn how to apply for rent assistance through the NLIHC right here.
Department of Housing & Urban Development
The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) has multiple rent assistance programs under its purview. While HUD may not offer direct funds to those in need, it is a great resource for those who would like to reduce their housing payments or find short-term lenders to provide rental assistance grants. Currently, HUD offers information for people who need assistance related to the following costs:
- Privately owned subsidized housing
- Public housing
- Section 8 housing
HUD also offers incentives for landlords to provide housing for low-income families. You can learn more about HUD rent assistance programs right here. It’s also important to remember that the federal government has extended the eviction moratorium until June 30th, 2021. So, even if you can’t pay your rent, you might be protected under federal law until the cut-off date.
United Way Rent Assistance
United Way is a network of nonprofit organizations dedicated to promoting health, education, and financial stability around the world. As a result, United Way is a great resource to help you look for housing assistance in your area. You can find a useful guide from United Way on how to cover your rent and how to apply for family assistance at this link.
Additional Rent Assistance Resources
While the resources above should help most people in need of rental assistance, you may have exhausted these options. More importantly, it’s always a good idea to have as many resources at your disposal as you can in the event of a financial emergency. Here are a few more resources that can help you get rental assistance grants, loans, or one-time rent assistance payments:
- 211 —By simply dialing 2-1-1 or visiting 211.org, you can learn about all of the rent assistance programs in your location.
- Housing Counseling Centers — These are nonprofits that offer help with your rent or mortgage. You can find a HUD-approved center near you at this link.
- The Salvation Army — You can get a one-time payment for rental assistance through the Salvation Army.
- Modest Needs — This organization offers one-time rental assistance grants of up to $1,000 to qualifying applicants. You can apply right here.
- HOME — The HOME program offers federal funds administrated through state agencies to provide affordable housing to qualifying individuals or families.
- USDA Rural Development Program — If you live in a rural area, the USDA can help you pay your rent or mortgage.
The Bottom Line
If you find yourself shouting “I need help with my rent,” you’re not alone. While the United States has faced a housing crisis for decades, the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the situation. Fortunately, hundreds of state and private entities have stepped up to provide funding to those in need. If you find yourself short on cash when rent is due, don’t hesitate to contact one or more of the programs listed above.
It’s also important to note that there are ways to pay your rent without looking to a government or private organization for help. If you are unemployed or have extra room in your schedule, consider working freelance in your spare time. You can drive an Uber, teach English, sell some of your belongings, or do anything that could help you make ends meet. Just remember that you’re not alone and there are plenty of organizations and programs that are ready to help people just like you!
If you’re looking for legal advice about your rights as a renter, be sure to consult our guide on free legal aid in all 50 states!