TENANTS

What is the purpose of the Emergency Rental Assistance Alabama (ERAA) Program?

The Program provides financial assistance to qualifying applicants to prevent housing instability, potential eviction, and financial hardships of tenants and landlords as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

 

Does ERA Alabama provide financial assistance for all counties and jurisdiction in Alabama?

  • ERA Alabama provides assistance to all counties and jurisdictions in Alabama with the exceptions and clarifications noted below:
  • Baldwin County started accepting applications April 1. If you live in Baldwin County and submitted an application prior to 9:00 AM, Thursday, April 1, ERA Alabama will process the application. After 9:00 AM Thursday, April 1, follow this link to access the Baldwin County ERA system. (https://erap.baldwincountyal.gov) Call: (251)-239-4360
  • Jefferson County started accepting applications May 10. If you live in Jefferson County and submitted your application prior to 9:00 AM, Monday, May 10, ERA ALABAMA will process your application. Beginning Monday, May 24, 2021, follow this link (https://erap.jccal.org) to access the Jefferson County Emergency Rental Assistance Program system. Applicants may also request support with the Jefferson County Emergency Rental Assistance community partners listed below:
  • Mobile County started accepting applications March 1. Follow this link to access the Mobile County ERA system  (https://www.mobilecountyal.gov/rental-and-utility-assistance) Call: 855-209-4970.
  • Montgomery County started accepting applications April 22. If you live in Montgomery County and submitted an application prior to 9:00 AM, Thursday, April 22, ERA Alabama will process the application. After 9:00 AM Monday, April 22, follow this link to access Montgomery County ERA system. (https://www.mc-ala.org/services/emergency-rental-assistance-montgomery-county) Call: 1-833-823-0007
  • The City of Birmingham started accepting applications April 26. If you live in the City of Birmingham and submitted an application prior to 10:00 AM, Monday, April 26, ERA Alabama will process the application. After 9:00 AM Monday, April 26, follow this link to access the City of Birmingham ERA system. (https://www.birminghamal.gov/renthelp) Call: 1-844-287-1250
  • The City of Huntsville started accepting applications March 15. If you live in the City of Huntsville and submitted an application prior to 9:00 AM, Monday, March 15th, ERA Alabama will process the application. After 9:00 AM Monday, March 15th, follow this link to access the city of Huntsville ERA system. (https://www.huntsvilleal.gov/covid-19-emergency-rental-assistance) Call: 256-427-5400
  • Madison County started accepting applications June 1. If you live in Madison County and submitted an application prior to 9:00 AM, Tuesday, June1, ERA Alabama will process the application. After 9:00 AM Tuesday, June 1, follow this link to access Madison County ERA system. (https://www.madisoncountyal.gov/services/emergency-rental-assistance) Call: 1-844-804-9454
  • Tuscaloosa County started accepting applications July 12. If you live in Tuscaloosa County and submitted an application prior to Monday, July 12, ERA Alabama will process the application. After Tuesday, July 12, follow this link to access the Tuscaloosa County ERA system. (https://www.tuscco.com/erap) Call: 1-888-472-0027. For Technical Support, applicants may request help by emailing [email protected].
  • If you live in an AHFA funded project in one of the counties or jurisdictions that is not currently covered by Emergency Rental Assistance Alabama, the application will be submitted and processed through the ERA Alabama program. If you are not sure if the project is an AHFA funded project, please contact the Call Center at 1-833-620-2434 for confirmation.

 

When does the Program begin, and what is my deadline to apply?

The Program began accepting applications Monday, March 1, 2021, at 8 a.m. Central Time and will remain open until all available funds have been committed. The duration of the Program will depend on the number of eligible applicants.

 

Who is eligible to receive assistance from the Program?

Renter households must have an income no more than 80 percent of area median income (AMI) AND one or more members of the household must attest in writing that they have either:

  • Qualified for unemployment benefits
  • Due to or during the pandemic:
    • experienced a reduction in income
    • incurred significant costs
    • experienced other financial hardship
  • AND one or more individuals within the household must demonstrate they:
    • are at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability, which may include a past due utility or rent notice or eviction notice, OR
    • live in unsafe or unhealthy housing conditions
  • At the time of application submittal to ERA Alabama, the unit must be or have been the applicant's primary residence during the months for which assistance is being requested.

 

Will some applications be given priority?

The prioritization period has closed effective July 15, 2021. After all priority applications have been processed, ERA Alabama will process all other applications. All applications deemed complete submissions will be reviewed and processed on a first-come first-serve basis subject to funding availability.

 

What financial assistance is provided under the Program?

Program funds may be used to provide up to fifteen (15) months of assistance for the following expenses:

  • Past due rent: rental arrears may be eligible starting March 13, 2020
  • Rent: future rent for up to three months*
  • Utilities: includes water, sewer, trash, power, internet, and home energy (separately stated expenses related to occupancy of a dwelling such as propane or fuel oil) costs
    • Costs for telephone, cable, or satellite television are NOT eligible under this program

*While applicants may be assisted for up to 15 months, the Program will not commit funds for prospective (future) rent for more than a 3-month period at a time. Applicants must reapply every 3 months and will only be assisted if funds are still available.

 

How do I apply for rental assistance under the Program?

Complete an online application at ERAALABAMA.com OR Call a program representative at (833) 620-2434 (toll free) to apply over the phone. The toll-free number offers access to assistance in multiple languages.

  • Tenants may apply directly for unpaid or future rent or utilities. If your landlord is willing to participate, you can either apply directly and your landlord will be contacted for additional information, or you can work with your Landlord for them to apply on your behalf using the LANDLORD application.
  • If your landlord chooses not to participate in the Program, you as the Tenant may still apply, subject to verification, for rental and utility assistance by completing the online application or by calling the toll-free number listed above to apply over the phone.
  • For tenants without access to email or proximity to a landlord with whom they can coordinate application completion and uploading of supporting documents, communicate with a Program representative by calling (833) 620-2434 to coordinate delivery of required documentation by US Mail.

 

How do I check the status of my application?

After submitting an application, you will be able to monitor the status of your application through the online dashboard or by calling (833) 620-2434 (toll free) to speak with a customer service representative.

 

What if my status is ineligible and I have received an email indicating my application has been denied?

Applicants that have received a denial, will have the opportunity to submit aRequest for a Reconsideration form located at ERAALABAMA.com/program-documents.

 

Are past due rent and utility bills from 2020 eligible for assistance?

Yes. Eligible households may receive up to 12 months of assistance, plus an additional 3 months, if ERA Alabama determines the extra months are needed to ensure housing stability and grantee funds are available. The payment of existing housing-related arrears that could result in eviction of an eligible household is prioritized. Assistance must be provided to reduce an eligible household’s rental arrears before the household may receive assistance for future rent payments. Once a household’s rental and utility arrears are reduced, ERA Alabama may only commit to providing future assistance for up to three months at a time. Households may reapply for additional assistance at the end of the three-month period if needed and the overall time limit for assistance is not exceeded.

 

What is the funding source for the Emergency Rental Assistance Alabama Program?

The Emergency Rental Assistance bill was passed as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 which provides $25 billion nationally for pandemic-response rental assistance. The program is administered through the U.S. Department of the Treasury. As part of this relief package, the State of Alabama has received approximately $237 million to assist landlords and tenants through the Alabama Rent Relief Program; additionally, the following local communities in Alabama with populations greater than 200,000 received direct allocations of these funds: Baldwin County, Jefferson County, Madison County, Mobile County, Montgomery, Tuscaloosa County, The City of Birmingham and The City of Huntsville.

 

What documentation will I need to complete my application?

As part of the Program application, all tenants and household members must submit the following documentation so we can confirm eligibility:

  • Government or current school issued ID for all household members eighteen years of age and older residing in the subject property.
  • Signed copy of rent or lease agreement (or rent receipt)
  • Rental ledger covering all periods for which rental assistance is requested
  • Notices of late rent payment or notice to evict, if applicable
  • The most recent utility bill for which utility assistance is requested. To be eligible for assistance, the name of the tenant and/or address provided per the ERA Alabama application must match the name and/or address for each utility statement submitted. Income documentation for all household members 18 years of age and older (or head and/or co-head of household if all members are under 18) must be provided from one of the two options below:
    • If you have completed your household’s federal income taxes for 2020, you will need to provide one of the following:
      • Copy of your Filed 2020 IRS Form 1040
      • Copy of your Filed 2020 IRS Form 1040-SR
    • If you are a current and qualified recipient of assistance from one or more of the programs listed below, you can provide an applicable benefit letter.
      • SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) (EBT).
      • Medicaid
      • LIHEAP (Low-Income Energy Assistance Program)
    • If you have not yet completed your federal income taxes for 2020 OR you are not required to file a federal income tax return for 2020, you will need to provide all of the applicable income documentation under one of the following two categories:

Acceptable annual income documentation:

  • 2020 IRS Form W2
  • Current Social Security Benefits letter or 2020 Form 1099-SA (including benefits paid to minors)
  • 2020 Form 1099-R
  • 2020 IRS Form 1099-MISC for contractor income

Other acceptable income documentation:

  • Check stubs from your employer for the previous 30 days
  • Current unemployment benefits letter including gross benefit amount
  • Current letter from your employer verifying gross wages (pay rate, hours/week, pay date)
  • Current Pension/Retirement Benefit letter (if applicable)
  • Current Annuity Payment letter
  • Current Interest Statement 1099- INT
  • Current Dividend Statement 1099- DIV
  • Self-Employment Certification Form
  • Cash or No Income Certification Form

In addition, please refer to resources listed on the Program Documents page.

 

How will my household income be calculated?

If the applicant is currently qualified for and receiving assistance from SNAP/EBT, Medicaid or LIHEAP, subject to presentation and verification of benefit letters that covers the period for which assistance is requested, the application will be considered eligible under program guidelines and any additional income verification is not required.

OR

Income for all household members 18 years of age or older will be considered when calculating annual household income. A household is defined as all persons occupying the same housing unit, regardless of their relationship to each other. The occupants could consist of a single family, two or more families living together, or any other group of related or unrelated persons who share living arrangements.

Household income will be calculated based on the adjusted gross income as defined for purposes of reporting under Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 1040 series for individual federal annual income tax purposes. When determining the number of household members and annual household income, keep in mind:

  • Minor children are considered household members. Earned income of minor children is not considered as part of total annual household income.
  • Minor children who are subject to shared custody agreements may be counted as household members if the minor child lives in the residence at least 50% of the time.
    • Documentation supporting the claim must be provided
  • Temporarily absent family members are considered household members and their income is considered in calculation of household income, regardless of how much the temporarily absent family member contributes to the household.
  • Paid, non-related, live-in aides, whether paid by the family or through a social service program, are not considered household members. Income of live-in aides is not considered in the calculation of household income. Related persons do not qualify as live-in aides.
  • Permanently absent family members, such as a spouse who resides permanently in a nursing home, may be considered a household member, at the discretion of the head of household/program applicant. If the head of household opts to include a permanently absent family member in the household, the income of the permanently absent household member will be counted in the calculation of annual household income. If the head of household chooses not to include the permanently absent family member as part of the household, the income of the permanently absent family member will not be considered in the calculation of annual household income.

 

What if I am a household member 18 years old or older and do not receive income?

If you do not receive income, please submit the (Cash or No Income Certification Form).

 

How will payments be made?

Payments will be made using ACH deposit via Bill.com. As part of the application process, the landlord will be asked to provide bank routing information into Bill.com to complete the payments once your application is approved for payment.

 

If I have received rental assistance from this program to cover past due rent, can I also apply for additional assistance?

If a Tenant has already received assistance for a specific time period, the Program cannot provide duplicative assistance for that same time period. Tenants can apply for three months of future rent payments provided total past and future payments do not exceed a collective total of 15 months, subject to the availability of funds.

 

Are tenants of federally subsidized housing, e.g., Low Income Housing Credit, Public Housing, or Indian Housing Block Grant-assisted properties, eligible for the Program? (March 19, 2021)

An eligible household that occupies a federally subsidized residential or mixed-use property may receive Program assistance, provided program funds are not applied to costs that have been or will be reimbursed under any other federal assistance.

If an eligible household receives a monthly federal subsidy (e.g., a Housing Choice Voucher, Public Housing, or Project-Based Rental Assistance) and the Tenant rent is adjusted according to changes in income, the renter household may receive program assistance for the Tenant-owed portion of rent or utilities that is not subsidized.

It is anticipated that the U.S. Department of Treasury may provide further guidance on this topic and when or if they do, AHFA will update these FAQs. These examples are not exhaustive but are the most common examples in the affordable housing industry. If in doubt, please email [email protected].

 

What if my Landlord refuses to enroll into the program?

If your landlord refuses to enroll in the Program, you can still apply directly. In order to provide direct payments, the Program is required to attempt to reach the landlord to confirm their unwillingness to participate. After an outreach period in which the Program has not heard from the landlord or have confirmation they have declined to participate, the payment will be made to the Tenant, if eligible.

  • ERA ALABAMA will initiate three (3) consecutive emails and/or phone calls to the landlord to facilitate their enrollment in the program. If the landlord fails to respond within ten (5) days of initial outreach, the Program is authorized to make payment to the Tenant.
  • In applications where supporting documents required from the landlord cannot be provided via email, ERA ALABAMA will notify the Landlord by US mail. Absent any response from the Landlord within fourteen (7) days of posting of the request for enrollment, the Program is authorized to make payment to the Tenant.

 

Am I eligible for assistance even if I have moved to a different rental unit since the start of the COVID-19 public − health emergency?

At the time of application submittal to ERA Alabama, the unit must be or have been the applicant’s primary residence during the months for which assistance is being requested.

 

If I’ve applied for and received rental assistance from another source before, am I still eligible to apply for rent − relief under this Program?

If you already received assistance for a specific time period, the Program cannot provide duplicative assistance for that same time period. ERA Alabama Program assistance may only be used to pay for incurred costs that are not– and will not be– paid for by any other rental assistance provider to avoid a duplication of benefit.

 

If I’m current on my rent, but my utility bills are past due, can I apply for utility assistance?

Yes. Utility or home energy costs are eligible, even if you do not need rent assistance.

 

Which utilities are eligible for financial assistance under the Program?

Eligible utilities include electricity, gas, water and sewer, internet services, trash removal and energy costs, such as propane and fuel oil. Telecommunication services, such as telephone and cable costs are NOT eligible for assistance.

 

What if my landlord already has started the eviction process?

Your Landlord can still apply for assistance on your behalf, or you can apply directly. The process is the same whether an eviction proceeding has started or not.

 

Are homeowners with mortgage payment problems eligible for assistance under the Program?

No. For this program, only those who rent their homes are eligible. Mortgage payments and utility expenses for homeowners are not eligible for financial assistance under the Program. The below resources have information for homeowners who may need help with their mortgage payments or utility bills. https://www.fhfa.gov/Homeownersbuyer/MortgageAssistance.

 

Will I be able request additional assistance following my initial application if needed?

  • Applicants will be eligible to submit an Additional Funds Request 30 days prior to the last day of the last month of assistance previously provided
  • Applicants will receive a Congratulations notification through the Neighborly system indicating eligibility to apply for an Additional Funds Request
  • Applicants may be eligible for additional rent and utility arrears PLUS 3 future months of assistance
  • The combined assistance for the original and the additional funds requires may not exceed a collective total of 15 months
  • Instructions on how to complete your application are available by clicking on this link