Applications open for program to help Alachua County residents pay rent and utilities

Published: Mar. 15, 2021 at 6:32 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Applications are now open for Alachua County’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) that will provide families behind on rent with up to $15,000 in assistance.

Alachua County received a federal grant of $8 million to fund the program. It will help pay for rent, utilities and internet expenses in some cases. The program does not offer assistance for mortgage payments.

“The federal government asked us to prioritize those who are struggling the most so we have a high priority pool of those meet some income level qualifications who have been out of work 90 days or more,” said Alachua County Commissioner, Anna Prizzia.

Eligibility Criteria for Tenants:

  • Must be an Alachua County resident who has rent obligations for and is residing in the property that is in arrears (late rent payments or at risk for nonpayment) as their primary residence and;
  • One or more adults in the household as listed on the lease must have qualified for unemployment benefits on or after March 13, 2020 OR experienced a reduction in household income on or after March 13, 2020, due to the coronavirus outbreak and;
  • One or more adults in the household as listed on the lease must be able to demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability such as a past due rent or utility notice, court issued eviction notice, unsafe or unhealthy living conditions, or documented inability to pay prospective rent and;
  • Total household income (including all adults residing at the address and listed on the lease) must fall at or below specific amounts.

Related story: Families in need can receive up to $15,000 for rental assistance in Alachua County

“Those individuals be for a house hold of one income of 24,450 dollars per year, house hold of four 34,900 a year,” added Alachua County Department Director, Claudia Tuck.

Prizzia says this will lift stress off of those facing hard times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “This gives folks a sense of relief and takes a burden off of them to know that past bills are no longer due and that they can focus on the future instead of having to stress about the past,” explained Prizzia.

The program is geared to not only help residents, but also landlords.

“Independent landlords are really struggling themselves to pay their bills and have a lot of debt now on the books in order to be able to allow people to stay in their homes,” said Prizzia. “So, I hope it will give them some relief and allow them to pay those bills and debt back and also allow them to have some grace and compassion for those people who are living in these places.”

If approved, the funds will be distributed directly to landlords and utility companies.

If you have question or need assistance with the application, call the ERAP helpline at 352-704-0301.

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