During their Jan. 26 meeting, the Leon County Board of County Commissioners approved the Leon County Emergency Rental Assistance Program. The Board accepted approximately $8.9 million in federal funding to establish the program intended “to assist low-income households that are unable to pay rent and utilities” due to the COVID-19 crisis.
According to the agenda item, the funding, will be allocated by the U.S. Treasury, must be used for its intended purpose of housing assistance in accordance with the Consolidated Appropriations Act passed by Congress in December. The funds would also be supplemental to the Coronavirus Relief Funding allocated under the federal CARES Act.
In order to be eligible for rental assistance, each renter household must have at least one person who qualifies for unemployment or has experienced financial struggles due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They must also be at significant risk of homelessness and have a household income at or below 80% of the Area Medium Income (AMI). The program must prioritize applicant households with individuals who have been unemployed for 90 days and with income at or below 50% of AMI.
Households that are approved for assistance may receive 12 months of assistance and are eligible for an additional three months should the situation call for it and funds are available. All funds from the program are intended to be paid directly to landlords and utility providers, unless the landlord wishes not to participate in the program, in which the household would receive the funds directly.
The County Commission approval of the $8.9 million in funding will facilitate housing for approximately 2,000 to 3,000 households in Leon County.