MAINE, USA — Relief is on the horizon for Mainers struggling to pay rent and utilities amid the pandemic. On Monday, $200 million in rent relief funds from the federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program will become available to Maine residents.
"It's been a tough several months, so we're happy to be able to open this program back up," Daniel Brennan, the director of the Maine State Housing Authority, said.
Mainers struggling to keep up with rent will be able to apply for rent relief through MaineHousing starting at noon on Monday, March 1.
"It's been a really stressful year, and COVID has impacted everyone," Brennan said. "I think that this program will help take the stress off of those households that have had to dip into their credit card or borrow money or just stay behind on their rent."
Funds for this round of rent relief come from the stimulus package passed by Congress in December 2020. Brennan says that this program will now be more robust, and hopes it will make a major difference in assisting those Mainers struggling.
"We really want people to be safe and stay in their homes, and get all of the access to all of the help they can to stay in their homes," he said.
These rent relief funds will be able to be used to pay up to three months of upcoming rent and past due rent dating back to March 2020, as well as utility bills.
To be eligible to receive rent relief, you must have had your income reduced, had significant costs, or had other financial hardship because of COVID-19. You would also be eligible if you have qualified for unemployment benefits between March 13, 2020 and the date of your application.
In addition, you must show you are at risk for becoming homeless or that you might lose your housing. This may include submitting past-due rent and utility bills or eviction notices when you apply.
Brennan says the he hopes this program will be able to support more than 10,000 Mainers struggling with bills. Brennan expects the funds to last through 2021.