ATLANTA — A state rental assistance program in Georgia that was initially funded with nearly $1 billion is expanding who is eligible to receive funds.
According to guidance issued this week by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, funds through the Georgia Rental Assistance Program will now be made available to people in larger cities and counties that had already received their own federal funds.
The Department of Community Affairs explained in a release that under initial guidance from the U.S. Treasury Department, "counties or cities with over 200,000 people received separate funds to set up rental assistance programs" and so the state agency "did not administer funds to those local jurisdictions and applicants could only apply through their local municipalities; programs."
Now, eligibility for the Georgia Rental Assistance Program has been expanded to everyone in the state.
Georgia was originally awarded $989 million in two separate tranches of federal Emergency Rental Assistance funds. That bloc of funding will now be available to tenants and landlords across the state.
"Regardless of zip code, 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 past-due payments current," a release said.
The Department of Community Affairs Deputy Commissioner of Housing Tonya Cureton Curry said in a statement that the expanded eligibility for assistance "is an unprecedented opportunity to bring landlords and 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," Curry said.
The agency advises that the program is available to "all tenant households whose finances have been negatively impacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic" and who meet criteria including:
- 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 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI), with priority given to households below 50 percent of the AMI, or
- Rental households that receive a monthly federal subsidy (e.g. Housing Choice Voucher, Public Housing, Project Based Section 8). Program eligibility is limited to the tenant’s portion of the rent.