Federal Rental Assistance Program to Close to New Applications

 Federal Rental Assistance Program to Close to New Applications

Launched in March 2021, RentReliefRI has assisted over 25,000 renter households to date

Based on the number of applicants currently under review, and those expected to apply for assistance between now and June 1, 2022, the agency anticipates that all remaining RentReliefRI funds allocated to financial assistance to renters will soon be depleted.

PROVIDENCE, RI – RIHousing announced today that the federally-funded RentReliefRI program will close to new applications on June 1, 2022. Launched in March of last year, the program provides financial assistance to cover rent arrears, forward facing rent, utility arrears and certain other housing expenses. Funded via the U.S. Treasury, the federally-funded RentReliefRI program provides up to 18 months of financial assistance to eligible Rhode Island renters impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Today’s announcement highlights the fact that the rental assistance program has done what it set out to do: provide a lifeline to thousands of struggling renters across our state during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Carol Ventura, Executive Director of RIHousing. “The program was designed to respond to the economic impact on renters of the COVID-19 pandemic and help bridge the gap for those financially impacted.”

Based on the number of applicants currently under review, and those expected to apply for assistance between now and June 1, 2022, the agency anticipates that all remaining RentReliefRI funds allocated to financial assistance to renters will soon be depleted and therefore, is closing the program to new applicants on June 1, 2022. Completed applications submitted prior to June 1, 2022, will continue to be processed and those that meet eligilibity guidelines will be eligible to receive assistance after the closing date, which will be limited to past due rent and utilities, current month’s rent and three (3) months forward-facing rent, after which time there will be no further financial assistance under the RentReliefRI program.

The RentReliefRI program was funded via $200 million from the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (P.L. 116-260) and an additional $152 million in ERA funding in the American Rescue Plan Act (P.L. 117-2). To date, over 27,000 Rhode Island renter households have been approved for rental and/or utility assistance from the program.

“RIHousing is grateful for the support and leadership we’ve received from Governor McKee and his team to be able to successfully launch and administer this important program for our state and its residents,” noted Ventura. “Through the hard work and commitment of program staff, our partners, elected officials and community members, we have been able to approve on average $2.8 million in rental and utility assistance funding per week and ensure these critical federal dollars are used to maintain housing stability for Rhode Island renters. RentReliefRI funds have helped families get back on track and stay in their homes.”

“While the program will soon be winding down to new applicants, we want to encourage any renters and landlords who have yet to apply, to take action today and apply for assistance prior to the deadline,” noted Ventura. “RentReliefRI staff and our community partners are available to offer support and resources to help renters apply for this assistance.”

Eligible renter households must be at or below 80% of Area Median Income (AMI), which translates into roughly $77,350 annual income for a family of four in most parts of the State. Applicants may apply for help with paying for utilities even if they do not need help paying for rent and there is no monthly cap on eligible rent relief. Assistance does not need to be paid back.

Available statewide, to date, the top ten municipalities based on funding approvals are: Providence, Pawtucket, Woonsocket, Cranston, Central Falls, North Providence, West Warwick, Warwick, East Providence, and Johnston.  Program data illustrates that of the approved applications, 67% of applicants represent minority populations and 72% are households earning less than 30% area median income (AMI), which translates into roughly $26,500 annual income for a family of four in most parts of the State. Details and information on the status of program applications and funding approvals is available online at www.rihousing.com/rent-relief-ri-dashboard/.

Applicants are encouraged to review updates on the RentReliefRI program webpage at: www.RentReliefRI.com for complete details and information.

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