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Georgia Department of Community Affairs expands eligibility for rental assistance

Metro ATL

Georgia Department of Community Affairs expands eligibility for rental assistance

Image obtained via Wikimedia Commons

Atlanta, GA — Georgia has received $552 million in federal emergency rental assistance under the Consolidated Appropriations Act and an additional $437 million under the American Rescue Plan Act. These funds are being administered by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs through the Georgia Rental Assistance Program.

The funds will provide relief to individuals, families and landlords whose finances have been negatively impacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of Aug. 9, the Georgia Rental Assistance Program is providing rental and utility assistance to tenants, landlords and utility providers statewide, according to a press release.

Based on guidance from the U.S. Treasury, counties or cities with over 200,000 people received separate funds to set up rental assistance programs. GRA previously didn’t administer funds to those local jurisdictions and applicants could only apply through their local government’s programs.

Tenants and landlords who have fallen behind on rent or utility payments due to the pandemic can apply for up to 18 months of rental and utility assistance through GRA to bring payments current. The program has expanded access to funds to the entire state to provide relief to as many Georgians as possible.

“We are living in a pandemic that has impacted Georgians in many different ways,” said Tonya Cureton Curry, DCA Deputy Commissioner of Housing, in a press release. “Having these rental assistance funds available from the U.S. Treasury is an unprecedented opportunity to bring landlords and tenants current on rent and utility payments. DCA is working closely with all local jurisdictions and the U.S. Treasury to provide funding to those in need across the state as we want to continue supporting as many Georgians as possible.”

This is the second expansion of the program. In May, eligibility was expanded based on federal guidance to include renter households that receive a monthly federal subsidy, like the Housing Choice Voucher. Only the tenant’s portion of the rent will be eligible for reimbursement and subject to the program’s guidelines and limitations.

According to the press release, the program is available to all tenant households who meet the following criteria:

— Those who qualify for unemployment or have experienced a financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic,
— Those who demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability, and
— Those who have a household income at or below 80% of the Area Median Income, with priority given to households below 50% of the AMI, or Rental households that receive a monthly federal subsidy. Program eligibility is limited to the tenant’s portion of the rent.

“We know many Georgians are still facing rental and utility arrearages due to the pandemic and we want to help these individuals, families, and landlords,” Curry said. “Regardless of your situation prior to the pandemic, GRA eligibility is based on your current situation.”

Those interested in applying can visit the online portal to apply for rental assistance. Program assistance is also available by calling or texting 833-827-RENT and resources are available in English, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish and Vietnamese.

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