|1.||What is the purpose of the Jefferson County Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)?|
|2.||When does the Program begin, and what is my deadline to apply?|
|3.||Who is eligible to receive assistance from the Program?|
|4.||Will some applications be given priority?|
|5.||What financial assistance is provided under the Program?|
|6.||How do I apply for rental assistance under the program?|
|7.||What if my status is ineligible and I have received an email indicating my application has been closed?|
|8.||Are past due rent and utility bills eligible for assistance?|
|9.||What is the funding source for the Jefferson County Emergency Rental Assistance Program?|
|10.||How will my household income be calculated?|
|11.||How will payments be made?|
|12.||What if my Landlord refuses to enroll into the program?|
|13.||If I’ve applied for and received rental assistance from another source before, am I still eligible to apply for rent & utility relief under this Program?|
|14.||If I’m current on my rent, but my utility bills are past due, can I apply for utility assistance?|
|15.||Which utilities are eligible for financial assistance under the Program?|
|16.||What if my landlord already has started the eviction process?|
|17.||Are homeowners with mortgage payment problems eligible for assistance under the Program?|
|18.||What forms of documentation can be provided to meet the application requirements?|
|19.||How does the eviction process work?|
|Q.||What is the purpose of the Jefferson County Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)?|
|A.||The Program provides financial assistance to qualifying applicants to prevent housing instability, potential eviction, and financial hardships of tenants and landlords as a result of the COVID-19public health emergency. |
|Q.||When does the Program begin, and what is my deadline to apply?|
|A.||The Program began accepting applications Monday, May 24, 2021, at 8 a.m. Central Time and will remain open until all available funds have been committed. The duration of the Program will depend on the number of eligible applicants.|
|Q.||Who is eligible to receive assistance from the Program?|
|A.||Renter households must have an income no more than 80 percent of area median income (AMI) AND one or more members of the household must attest in writing that they have either:|
|Q.||Will some applications be given priority?|
|A.||The following applicants will be given priority: |
Only after those priority applicants are processed will the Program then proceed with the review of anyone over 50% AMI on a first-come first-served basis until all funds are committed.
|Q.||What financial assistance is provided under the Program?|
|A.||Program funds may be used to provide up to fifteen (15) months (and in some cases 18 months) of assistance for the following expenses: |
Home energy costs are separately stated expenses related to occupancy of a dwelling like propane and fuel oil.
*While applicants may be assisted for a total of 15 months (and in some cases 18 months), the Program will not commit funds for prospective (future) rent for more than a 3-month period at a time. For additional prospective assistance, applicants may reapply every 3 months and will only be assisted if funds are still available.
|Q.||How do I apply for rental assistance under the program?|
|A.||Complete an online application at erap.jccal.org.|
|Q.||What if my status is ineligible and I have received an email indicating my application has been closed?|
|A.||Ineligible applicants will be provided an opportunity for an appeal of that decision.|
|Q.||Are past due rent and utility bills eligible for assistance?|
|A.||Yes. Eligible households may receive up to 12-15 months of assistance, plus an additional 3 months, if determined the extra months are needed to ensure housing stability and grantee funds are available. The payment of existing housing-related arrears that could result in eviction of an eligible household is prioritized. Assistance must be provided to reduce an eligible household’s rental arrears before the household may receive assistance for future rent payments. Once a household’s rental arrears are reduced, grantees may only commit to providing future assistance for up to three months at a time. Households may reapply for additional assistance at the end of the three-month period if needed and the overall time limit for assistance is not exceeded.|
|Q.||What is the funding source for the Jefferson County Emergency Rental Assistance Program?|
|A.||The Emergency Rental Assistance bill was passed as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 for pandemic-response rental assistance. The program is administered through the U.S. Department of the Treasury. As part of this relief package, Jefferson County has received approximately $30 million to assist landlords and tenants through the Program. Additionally, the State of Alabama has voluntarily reallocated funds from their program to Jefferson County for the benefit of the citizens of Jefferson County.|
|Q.||How will my household income be calculated?|
Income for all household members 18 years of age or older will be considered when calculating annual household income. A household is defined as all persons occupying the same housing unit, regardless of their relationship to each other. The occupants could consist of a single family, two or more families living together, or any other group of related or unrelated persons who share living arrangements. Household income will be calculated based on the adjusted gross income as defined for purposes of reporting under Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 1040 series for individual federal annual income tax purposes. When determining the number of household members and annual household income, keep in mind:
|Q.||How will payments be made?|
|A.||Payments will be made using ACH or check.|
|Q.||What if my Landlord refuses to enroll into the program?|
|A.||If your landlord refuses to enroll in the Program, you can still apply directly. In order to provide direct payments, the Program is required to attempt to reach the landlord to confirm their unwillingness to participate. After an outreach period in which the Program has not heard from the landlord or have confirmation they have declined to participate, the case manager will determine the next best step:|
|Q.||If I’ve applied for and received rental assistance from another source before, am I still eligible to apply for rent & utility relief under this Program?|
|A.||If you already received assistance for a specific time period, the Program cannot provide duplicative assistance for that same time period. Jefferson County ERAP Program assistance may only be used to pay for incurred costs that are not– and will not be– paid for by any other rental assistance provider to avoid a duplication of benefit.|
|Q.||If I’m current on my rent, but my utility bills are past due, can I apply for utility assistance?|
|A.||Yes. Utility or home energy costs are eligible, even if you do not need rent assistance.|
|Q.||Which utilities are eligible for financial assistance under the Program?|
|A.||Eligible utilities include electricity, gas, water and sewer, internet services, trash removal and energy costs, such as propane and fuel oil. Telecommunication services, such as telephone and cable costs are NOT eligible for assistance. Other costs related to housing may also be covered including home internet costs (but not including cellphone bills or other telecommunication).|
|Q.||What if my landlord already has started the eviction process?|
|A.||Your Landlord can still apply for assistance on your behalf, or you can apply directly. The process is the same whether an eviction proceeding has started or not.|
|Q.||Are homeowners with mortgage payment problems eligible for assistance under the Program?|
|A.||No. For this program, only those who rent their homes are eligible. Mortgage payments and utility expenses for homeowners are not eligible for financial assistance under the Program. The below resources have information for homeowners who may need help with their mortgage payments or utility bills. https://www.fhfa.gov/Homeownersbuyer/MortgageAssistance.|
|Q.||What forms of documentation can be provided to meet the application requirements?|
1. Identification documentation, may include:
2. Documentation that supports the household income listed in the application (include one of the following):
3. Documentation showing you have an obligation to pay rent at your address may include
4. Documentation showing the costs for which you will request assistance. Documentation must show the amount due for each month. For outstanding payments due, documentation must show the months that are outstanding and the amount due for each month for which there is an outstanding balance. Documents may include:
5. Documentation showing the household has experienced a direct or indirect negative economic impact due toCOVID-19 (such as a COVID-19 related job loss, reduced hours, reduced tips, loss of opportunities such as grants or scholarships due to the higher education institution closing, medical cost related to COVID-19, increased costs of distance learning or work from home, increased child-care, or medical expenses, etc.). Documentation must include at least one:
A. documentation that some in my household qualified for unemployment benefits (qualified due to a COVID-19 impact) that may include:
B. Alternatively, you may included documentation that shows the household experienced a reduction in income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship directly or indirectly due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This may include:
6. Documentation showing my household is at risk of housing instability or homelessness, which may include:
|Q.||How does the eviction process work?|
If you are at risk of eviction, please see the information below about the eviction process and your rights as a tenant.
Understand the Eviction Process:
The first step of an eviction is a lease termination notice. Your landlord must give you a notice telling you that you owe rent, your balance, and give you 7 days to pay it.
If the rent is not paid in 7 days, you may receive an “Unlawful Detainer” from the court. It may be posted on your door or handed to you. It might be handed to you by a sheriff’s deputy or someone in plain clothes.
If you receive court papers, you must file a response in writing at the courthouse within 7 calendar days. Otherwise, the landlord will be able to put you out eventually, without ever going to court!
If you file an answer, you will get a court date. You must attend your court date, or you will lose the case automatically.
You should apply for rent assistance as soon as you are behind on rent. If you get court papers, you should apply for rent assistance immediately.
Your court date is basically your deadline to have rent assistance PAID or to move. You can ask the court for more time, but your landlord will probably have to agree to it.
The court could rule against you at your court date. You only have 7 days to appeal. After that time, the sheriff can set you out 48-72 hours after providing you notice posted to your door.
Know when your landlord can seek to evict you and when you are allowed to remain on the property:
• Only the court can make you leave.
• The landlord cannot change locks or disconnect utilities to force you to leave.
• The landlord can seek to evict you if you have provided false information in your application or lease, when the lease ends, if you break the lease, if you break the law on the premises, or if you have been gone for two weeks without notice.
• A landlord can presume abandonment if electricity is off for 7 days, issue a termination notice, and then after two weeks dispose of your personal property.
• Once the landlord notifies you in writing of the issue, you have 7 days to catch up on rent or fix the problem if the problem is one that is allowed to be fixed.