Rent assistance on hold as Utah prepares to launch new application

FILE - In this Sept. 13, 2011, file photo, a house is for rent an for sale in Portland, Ore. Experts say owning rental housing can pay off even as market recovers.

(Rick Bowmer, Associated Press, File)

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utahns who want to apply for rental assistance will have to wait until Utah launches its new application process later this month. At the same time, state officials said the new applications have also been paused to "ensure that new federal guidelines are met."

Beginning March 15, those in need of rent assistance can start applying through a single, centralized online application at Applicants must now request rent money from local community action agencies.

"Emergency rental assistance is an important program that can help Utah renters impacted by the pandemic to stay in their homes," Nate McDonald, Department of Workforce Services deputy director, told KSL NewsRadio.

"While we recognize that a pause in accepting applications may cause concern, it will help to ensure the updated program runs smoothly and will allow local community action program agencies to work through their existing backlog of applications."

Renter eligibility

To qualify for emergency rental assistance, residents must meet one of these eligibility requirements:

  • Household income at or below 80% of area median income
  • Qualify for or currently receiving unemployment
  • Experienced a reduction in income or incurred significant costs due to the pandemic
  • Experiencing housing instability

Applicants who have been unemployed for at least 90 days or are at or below 50% area median income may be placed at the top of the assistance list.

The rental assistance covers current rent owed (as well as three months of prospective rent), past-due rent, eligible fees, security deposit, utilities and internet service.

Advice from Workforce Services

If you're worried about paying this month's rent, the department advises that you speak to your landlord about developing a rental-payment plan, which would include the rental-assistance program. It also recommends filling out and giving your landlord the CDC Tenant Declaration Form.

The department states that even though there is a federal eviction moratorium in place through March, the renter is still responsible for paying rent. Furthermore, the moratorium may not apply to all Utah renters.

Emergency rental assistance

The pandemic put millions of Americans in a tricky financial spot. Congress devoted around $26 million to rental assistance in December 2020. To help secure housing for hurting Americans, the Emergency Rental Assistance program created a rental fund, with $215 million allocated to Utah.

Utah began providing rental assistance in May 2020 in an effort to help lessen the monetary impact for residents on the verge of losing their housing.

To get a jump start on the application or to learn more about the program, visit the Rent Relief Utah webpage.

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Saige Miller


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