Program Success Stories
Tim Jacobs, Landlord
We wanted to tell you how much we appreciate the help and support of your organization during this time of need for so many. During the shutdowns, we found ourselves and our tenants struggling to stay afloat due to the loss of revenue they were incurring. Our tenant was unemployed for sixteen months due to their situation with three small children. They were struggling to survive. We struggled with them and exhausted our savings in order to keep them afloat until they found employment and were able to get back some resemblance of a normal life. We started to look for help to dig out of this when we found ERA Alabama. We were surprised at the ease of applying and how gracious and understanding your employees were during this time. We were never put in an awkward position and, in fact, we were guided through the process in a timely manner.
Thanks to ERA Alabama, we were able to forgive the rent owed to our tenant, which has allowed them to breathe easy. We were also able to continue being landlords and saving for retirement. So many times, Americans are afraid to look at the programs offered thinking it’s all hype and there will be no help. We are so grateful for everyone who has made ERA Alabama possible. We cannot say enough about receiving assistance, but we truly thank you and hope you know that you renewed our faith in our country and our wonderful state.
“We fell behind on rent and other bills and were struggling to catch up, so our property management suggested we apply for assistance because we were about to get evicted…This assistance saved our family from becoming homeless!”
After receiving help from ERA Alabama, V.W. says, “It’s been such a relief, and I have told so many other people about applying for assistance and how it helped my family.” V.W. worked part-time as a virtual customer service representative for an online retailer before the pandemic hit and reduced her hours. Coupled with her husband’s job loss, V.W. says, “We fell behind on rent and other bills and were struggling to catch up, so our property management suggested we apply for assistance because we were about to get evicted.” She says they received fantastic service from their ERA Alabama counselor and that her family is grateful for all of her diligent and persistent work, noting that the counselor even followed up with them after they received assistance to make sure they were still doing well. V.W. says, “This assistance saved our family from becoming homeless!”
Terrance Jackson, Property Manager
Terrance Jackson is the property manager at Lodges on Lincoln in Selma, managed by Olympia Management. Terrance has helped residents at Lodges on Lincoln, as well as Magnolia Garden I and Magnolia Gardens II – also Olympia developments located in Selma – apply for assistance through ERA Alabama. Terrance says, “We have helped more than 21% of our residents apply for and receive ERA Alabama assistance.”
He calls the process relatively simple and straightforward, and says, “There is nothing more stressful than an unstable living situation. Many residents who have been affected by COVID-19 have lost significant amounts of money and their ability to pay rent, the largest expense for most, is first affected. This funding enables our tenants the opportunity to not have to make the hard choices between paying rent, groceries, medical care and necessary utilities.” He shares the story of a family at one of the developments who needed assistance after the father was hospitalized with COVID for over two weeks. Terrance says, “He was unable to work for about a month afterwards. He and his wife and young child fell behind on the rent after his wife also became ill with COVID and was unable to work. They were unsure how they were going to pay for their rent, water and electric bills.”
Terrance helped them complete their application for ERA Alabama assistance and said they were approved and received funds within three weeks. He says, “We were able to help them pay and bring their rent and utilities current. They were ecstatic and grateful for these funds and have been able to go back to work without the burden of repaying debts they otherwise could not afford.”
“We were able to help them pay and bring their rent and utilities current. They were ecstatic and grateful for these funds and have been able to go back to work without the burden of repaying debts they otherwise could not afford.”
“ERA Alabama has provided these families with a much-needed sense of housing security, as well as giving them the monetary means to afford daily life expenses, including food and medical needs. Our residents have been overjoyed, thankful, and so appreciative of the help!”
Celeste Stewart, Apartment Services & Management and Amanda Wetherbee, Vantage Management, LLC
Two developers recently shared feedback about ERA Alabama and how assistance has benefitted their residents.
Celeste Stewart, vice president of operations with Apartment Services & Management shared, “The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all Americans, especially the most vulnerable among us. Our communities consist of many families that have been negatively affected by this pandemic, particularly financially. ERA Alabama has provided these families with a much-needed sense of housing security, as well as giving them the monetary means to afford daily life expenses, including food and medical needs. Our residents have been overjoyed, thankful, and so appreciative of the help! Our managers and support staff have witnessed firsthand the needs of many being met. It’s been a very rewarding and humbling experience, and one we are proud to be a part of.”
Amanda Wetherbee, operations manager at Vantage Management, LLC agrees, saying, “ERA Alabama assistance is the difference between housing stability and vulnerability for many of our residents.” She shares the story of one resident who said, “The ERA program has truly been a blessing to my family during this pandemic. After losing my 11-year career as a result of COVID-19, this program has allowed me to maintain housing for my family, while focusing on going back to school to obtain a trade that I have long desired. I graduated on December 10, 2021, with my certification in pipe welding. I am truly grateful for this opportunity of assistance, and truly appreciate the support of this program.”
Amanda says she regularly hears stories like this from residents, but she also hears from site managers. CreShunda Murphy, site manager at a development in Birmingham, said, “The emergency rental assistance program has truly been a relief to many families during this challenging pandemic. With many families finding themselves either out of work, being forced to a reduced work schedule, or experiencing an increased hardship, this program has afforded many families to maintain housing, without the additional stress. It has been a great joy working with many of our residents during the process and witnessing the joy and relief after they were awarded the assistance.”
In December 2019, C.H.’s rent nearly doubled and once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, she quickly got behind and needed help with her rent and utilities. She says, “Living on a fixed income is challenging enough with inflation and a struggling economy. The COVID-19 pandemic drastically affected my business, and my income was substantially reduced.”
C.H.’s business is a small online retail business that helps supplement her disability income. She shares, “I got to work at home even before the pandemic. I was able to feel valued and productive despite my disabilities. I was able to feel a level of independence that I had not felt since my disabilities began many years ago.”
The pandemic took a toll on her business, and she heard about and applied for assistance through Emergency Rental Assistance Alabama. She says, “The application process was a breeze! It was succinct and to the point. The waiting period was the most challenging, but of course, once my application was approved, I experienced great relief.”
C.H. received rent and utility assistance – including help with her internet bills. She says, “This was a lifeline for someone like me who has disabilities but also a business to run. It’s important for people to know they’re getting a hand up and not a handout, and they can keep their dignity in stressful times.” When asked what she would tell others wondering if they should apply for assistance, she shares, “Always apply. Have a grateful heart. Only take what you need. This program is new, and agencies, landlords and residents have to all work together to ensure its success.”
“This was a lifeline for someone like me who has disabilities but also a business to run. It’s important for people to know they’re getting a hand up and not a handout, and they can keep their dignity in stressful times.”
“I just want people to know this is real. We went through a pandemic – a bad pandemic, and the government put this money out there to help people and their families. I took the opportunity, and this has truly been a light at the end of the tunnel. People should take advantage of this help – that’s what it’s there for”
C.F. recently received assistance from Emergency Rental Assistance Alabama and agreed to share her story so others would know, “The help is out there – it’s real.”
C.F. was laid off from her job at a plant making parts for BMW and Mercedes, and then contracted COVID-19 last December. She had paid her rent in December, but her unemployment compensation was paused because there was a problem with her paperwork. She was accumulating late fees and having trouble paying utility and other bills. She heard about Emergency Rental Assistance Alabama on the news and kept checking the AHFA website, so she knew when the program opened.
C.F. has a 26-year-old son and currently lives alone. She said the help from ERA Alabama, “Has been a such a stress reliever. I’m ready to get back in the ball game and get back to work, but this has just been such a blessing.” She says many of her neighbors thought the program wasn’t real and was just for TV. “I told them – you can go ahead and think these people aren’t going to help, but I’m going to go ahead and apply and get help. Then once everyone found out it was real, they all started asking me how to apply and what they needed to do.”
C.F. says her landlord was a great help and made sure the paperwork was in order, which quickened the process. “You just have to get the right paperwork in order and submit the right paperwork. They will give you a case number where you can check back on it and see if it’s getting through.”
She says, “I just want people to know this is real. We went through a pandemic – a bad pandemic, and the government put this money out there to help people and their families. I took the opportunity, and this has truly been a light at the end of the tunnel. People should take advantage of this help – that’s what it’s there for.”
Darrell Watkins and his family recently received help from Emergency Rental Assistance Alabama. Darrell began a tax business on January 1, 2020. Just after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, he was saddened to have to close his new business. He says, “I didn’t have a clue what we were going to do.”
Darrell had been following the news and heard about the program. “When I heard about the rental assistance program, I called right away, but it had not started yet. So the date it began, I started the application process.” He noted that the process was easy to understand and follow through. “My landlord was great. They gave me all the information I needed to complete the application, and they were very patient with me.”
Darrell was approved for assistance to cover past due rent expenses plus 3 months of future rent. He says, “This is giving us time to get caught up. I am thankful for the help, and I would tell others who are struggling not to hesitate to apply.”