DIFFICULT Americans may be able to get stimulus money worth up to $10,000 each if they struggle to pay the rent.
Congress first approved a $25 billion rental assistance program in December.
Then came another $21.55 billion under the US bailout plan in March, along with a third $1,400 stimulus check.
However, according to the latest Treasury data, just over $10 billion of the funds had been distributed at the end of September.
It comes after the Supreme Court in August blocked the Biden administration from enforcing a nationwide eviction ban over Covid.
The move meant landlords could evict their tenants, putting millions of people at risk of losing their homes.
To help tenants who are still struggling, support is distributed across states, but you have to apply to get it.
Below we explain who qualifies, how to apply and how funding varies by state.
Who is eligible for housing benefit?
To be eligible for rent assistance, you must have experienced financial hardship during the pandemic and are lagging behind on your rent.
You must also meet local income requirements, which vary depending on the state you live in.
In general, your household income cannot exceed 80% of the median income for the area.
In New York, for example, you must also receive unemployment benefits, or you may be eligible if your income has fallen.
In addition, you must demonstrate that there is a risk of becoming homeless without support.
How much you can get and how to apply
How much you can get also depends on where you live and your individual circumstances.
The federal program allows eligible households to receive help with their rent, including rent arrears, until March 13, 2020, for up to 18 months.
But not every state offers support for 18 months.
For example, residents of certain New Jersey counties can get up to $10,000 in a six-month period.
While in Connecticut, the program offers $10,000 in rent support and up to $1,500 for utility bills.
In Massachusetts, struggling tenants can get up to $10,000 during a state of emergency and up to $7,000 for six months after the state of emergency ends.
In comparison, those in Arizona can receive up to $3,500 per month for both rent and utilities for a maximum of 18 months — $63,000 in all.
If you have rent arrears, the money should go toward the rent you owe first, but you can also get financing to cover future rent.
Local programs can also cover utility bills, including electricity, gas, and garbage disposal, as well as Internet service, moving costs, and more.
Funds are sent to states by the Treasury Department based on their size.
To apply, contact your local Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program.
In some areas you can apply for housing benefit yourself, in other areas your landlord must first submit an application.
If you qualify, the money is usually paid directly to your landlord or utility company.
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