But the rent is still due. For people relying on those protections, this month may mark the start of new challenges.
“Emergency rental assistance should be a priority,” said Priscilla Almodovar, CEO of Enterprise Community Partners, a national non-profit affordable housing developer. “It’s a key factor in avoiding evictions that mean homeless people.”
“I expect we will see a lot of families push right for homeless people as we begin the school year, which is already fraught with complications,” said Erin O. Planalp, an Iowa Legal Aid management attorney. “But I hope we can build on our connections in the community and partner with owners to try to give people a little more time.”;
For people who can’t pay rent this month, the good news is that there may be more rent relief resources available than when the pandemic started.
Find out what protections you have
If you are unable to pay your rent, talk to your landlord. Most agree to take down payments or set up a payment plan. But if you still can’t make a rent, you want to know what protections you have to prevent eviction.
Eviction moratoriums, which are stoppages on landowners or filing or carrying out the removal of a tenant, have been put in place to protect tenants from losing their home during the health crisis. But they were rising and shrinking. There have been moratoriums at the federal or local levels, for different types of housing and for various amounts of time.
At this point, tenants are more likely to be protected by a local moratorium, which may be extended or remain in place.
But no matter what moratorium eviction protection you may be under, the rent will not be forgiven. Unpaid rent is still due and will still need to be paid eventually to avoid eviction.
Reaches to find relief funds
The CARES Act has allocated money to states and communities for use for rent relief. But legal aid workers are connected between tenants who need the money.
For anyone who has not been surveyed on rent, it is difficult to understand how difficult it is to live in a constant state of emergency, Planalp said. “There’s this fight or flight response. Taking steps to figure it out for you and your family is so difficult.”
“There’s a lot of funding out there,” Planalp said. “But there are several programs and each program has its own criteria.”
Still, much of this relief funding leaves people out, she said. Tenants who are undocumented or without legal status are not eligible for the CARES Act exemption.
“The help is there,” Planalp said. “We’ve got to catch people with the right program and give them enough time to apply so they can get the help they need before they lose their home.”