12/23/20 - RENTER RELIEF UNDER NEWLY PASSED STIMULUS BILL
WELCOME to State Representative Lynne Williams’ Blog. Using this medium to communicate, I hope to offer understandable information that will be useful in navigating many issues in the state, not the least of those issues being the pandemic.
In this first blog post, I will focus on pandemic relief for Renters. As you may know, Congress FINALLY passed a CVOVID-19 Relief Bill. I certainly can’t say I read the 5500+ pages of this bill, but I have tried to gather information from groups and associations that support renters and have attempted to winnow the information down into an understandable and useful form.
The CDC’s federal eviction moratorium has been extended through January 31, 2021. Yes, that is only about 6 weeks, so immediately after Congress returns to work, on or around January 3, 2021, they will need to extend this ban further. This short-term ban will provide much needed relief for renters, who are at risk of losing their homes.
Emergency Rental Assistance, funded through the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF), will be allocated to the states and it is estimated that Maine will receive $200,000,000. It will be up to the state to determine how those funds will be utilized but they must be used to provide rental assistance, which will likely be rent payments for those who have fallen behind, or are at risk of falling behind. Some assistance will likely be given towards utility payments and other housing expenses, perhaps heating costs. Assistance can be provided for a period of up to 12 months, and states can provide an additional three months if necessary “to ensure housing stability for a household.” To be eligible for rental relief, the recipient must meet income requirements. The last Area Medium Income (AMI) I could locate for District 135 - Bar Harbor, Lamoine and Mount Desert - was the 2019 figure of $67,000, based on a 4 person household. Recipients must have incomes below 80% of this figure which is $53,600 and the program must prioritize households below 50% os this figure, or $33,500, as well as those who are unemployed and have been for 90 days or more. Landlords and property owners may aid tenants in making an application for assistance or may apply on the tenant’s behalf.
Maine will be administering this program so as soon as I hear how and when applications for this program can be made, I will post the information.
The State just sent $600 payments for those Mainers who are receiving unemployment benefits. That is not federal money, but rather money that the State had remaining from some of the earlier programs that the State offered to Mainers to help ease the impacts of the pandemic.
ENJOY the holidays and I will be back writing more in a few days. Next up will be information about the new Paycheck Protection Loan Program.