The House of Representatives passed President Joe Biden’s mammoth American Rescue Plan today, pouring $1.9 trillion into everything from vaccines to schools—and, yes, help for renters. Biden is expected to sign the bill into law on Friday.
The new relief bill will add billions more to the $25 billion in emergency rental relief granted in late December, bringing total rental assistance funds to about $45 billion.
This relief covers everything from back rent to current rent, as well as utility bills—both in arrears (money that is owed from previous months) and current.
How Can I Access the Funds?
Unlike stimulus checks, renter assistance is not automatic. So, it’s really up to both renters and landlords to find the local program that’s in charge of allocating emergency funds. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) database of state programs offers a comprehensive list of places where you can apply for help in your area.
Don’t be surprised, however, if you have to jump through hoops to get assistance. There have been problems getting relief to people efficiently. And some states, like Michigan and Montana, are not releasing all of the funds they were given late last year, according to a report by The Pew Charitable Trusts.
“One problem is that states have had difficulties processing applications and getting the money to the people who need it,” says Emily Benfer, a health and housing law expert and the…