MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A program that rescued thousands of Shelby County families from homelessness for nearly two years is ending. The Memphis and Shelby County federal Emergency Rental Assistance program is accepting final applications by August 31.
Qualifying applicants can get up to 14 months of utility or rent payments dated back to March of 2022. The ERA program was the most extensive assistance program for people behind on rent that Shelby County has ever seen.
Throughout the pandemic, Deputy Director for Shelby County, Cherry Whitehead-Thompson said the county has dished out about $79 million ERA dollars to cover rent or utilities for more than 25,000 people.
The county now has to distribute about 42 million dollars by December 31st, 2022.
Whitehead-Thompson said if anything is left over by the end of the year, the money is "null and voided" if not expended by the deadline.
"I don't think we will have any trouble spending the $42 million we have remaining because we also have several other previous applicants in pending status," she said.
Throughout the course of the program, it has taken the county weeks and in some cases months to send out funding for approved applicants, but Whitehead-Thompson said everyone who gets approved for the assistance will get help by the end of the year.
"We do not anticipate having those who apply, and are eligible, not get a payment by the deadline," she said.
To be eligible, you have to show proof of income, a copy of the rental lease agreement, a current MLGW bill, and proof of a COVID-19 hardship.
Whitehead-Thompson said it's important renters remember landlords do have the right to decline the program's help and move forward with the eviction, even if you're approved. If that happens, Whitehead said the program can use the money to help go towards new housing.
If someone applied for the program before, they can apply again because the program will pay up to 14 months of back rent and utilities. For example, if someone applied in January, but they were only behind on rent for four months, the program can help you pay your back rent again for up to 10 months.
Click here to apply online and view the full list of requirements.