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Rental assistance, more commonly known as the Emergency Rental Assistance Program or ERAP is a federal program that aims to assist tenants and renters in terms of housing and utility expenses. Founded just recently, this program focuses on households and individuals who are suffering from housing crises due to the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. ERAP aims to provide funding to families who could not afford housing expenses or are on the verge of eviction.

Rental Assistance: How it Works

Emergency Rental Assistance is funded by the federal government through state or other local programs. It is available for both landlords and tenants. If you are one of those landlords whose rental business turned a bit askew due to the pandemic or if you are one of those tenants who are struggling to maintain housing stability, ERAP can help you financially keep your state of living afloat despite the ongoing economic crisis.

If you wish to apply for an assistance program, you can inquire from the state’s local agency to be thoroughly assisted with your application.

Two Rental Programs have been Established

There are two separate programs of Emergency Rental Assistance wherein both are supervised and funded by different federal laws:

  1. The ERA1 - This was first enacted in December of 2020 and provides about 25 Billion US Dollars in the budget under the supervision of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, and;
  2. The ERA2 - This was first enacted just this March of 2021. ERA2 provides about 21.55 Billion US Dollars under the supervision of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

Benefits of Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)

If your ERAP application is approved, you may receive the following benefits:

  • About 12 months of rental fee assistance for debts accumulated in a certain period;
  • If the family or tenant is required to pay 30 percent of their gross monthly income in rental fees, an additional 3 months of rental assistance will be provided.
  • About 12 months of assistance for debts in utility expenses like gas or electricity that are accumulated in a certain period;
  • Moving expenses for households that need to move to another home;
  • internet service at home; and
  • Other rental-related expenses.

The payments will be given directly to your landlord and the utility resource. If it happens that the landlord or property owner cannot be located or the owner did not provide his/her contact information, the payment will be held for about 180 days which is enough time to locate the landlord, acquire necessary information from the landlord, and establish maximum participation from the landlord.

Benefits may vary depending on the state or territory. To know more specific details on the ERAP benefits it is advised to visit your state’s local ERAP agency.


To be eligible for Emergency Rental Assistance, you should meet the following eligibility requirements:

  1. Must have an agreement to pay rental fees - This can include a signed lease;
  2. Even one member of the family should have qualified for unemployment benefits;
  3. Have lost income source;
  4. Have a large amount of debt;
  5. Experiencing other financial hardships.
  6. Have a monthly income below the limit that your state has set; or
  7. You or any from your household are on the verge of becoming homeless.

How to Apply

If you wish to apply for Emergency Rental Assistance, you can inquire your state’s local agency about the options in applying or visit your state’s official website and search for the Emergency Rental Assistance or ERAP in the search box.

In applying, you should prepare the following requirements:

For Renters:

  • Personal Identification - This can be a government or non-government issued ID, birth certificate, or driver’s license.
  • Social Security Number - You can use yours or anyone in the household who has one.
  • Proof of residency and occupancy - This can be rent receipt, school records, bank statements, signed lease, or other documents that can provide proof of your residency. Note that proof must be the latest and current.
  • Proof of income - This can be documented that shows your monthly income or annual income like bank deposit verification, payment stubs, annual statement of earnings, annual income tax return, and other documents that will show your income.
  • Proof of rental amount - This can be the signed lease or rent receipt. If you don’t have any, an attestation from the landlord is required.
  • Copy of utility bills (e.g., gas or electricity bill) - This applies if you are also applying to pay for debts on utilities.

For Land Lords:

  • W-9 tax form - This information from this form can be used to fill up the application form from the ERAP portal of the state or territory you live in.
  • Documentation of rent due - This will come from the tenant. It includes monthly rent confirmation or records containing the rental amount due each month.
  • Executed lease (with the tenant) - Evidence of fund transfer or payment records of last month can also be useful. For an online application, you should upload the lease containing the unit address, the tenants on the lease, payment obligation, and signature.
  • Banking information - This can also be used in filling up the ERAP application form found on your state’s ERAP portal or local agency.
How to Show that you are Eligible for ERAP?

So long as you meet the eligibility requirements, you have a greater chance that your application will be approved. Usually, the program sees if your income is eligible and that you are currently experiencing crises in housing stability through a written statement, eviction notice, rent amount due, or other documents showing your income and instability.

For the landlord, the program looks at your tenant’s needs and you are required to show proof that your tenant’s household is eligible for the program and meets the eligibility requirements stated earlier in this article.

To know more about the Emergency Rental Assistance Program in your area, just visit your state’s local agency that administers the program. If it happens that your application has not been approved, you can apply for other housing benefits. To find one, visit the Government Benefits official website and search for other rental or housing assistance programs.

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