Jefferson County, Alabama

ERAP FAQ

 

    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 from 2020 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 Iíve 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 Iím 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?
 
    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:
  • qualified for unemployment benefits due to the pandemic
  • due to or during the pandemic:
    • experienced a reduction in income
    • incurred significant costs
    • experienced other financial hardship 
  • AND one or more individuals within the household must demonstrate they:
    • are at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability, which may include a past due utility or rent notice or eviction notice, OR
    • live in unsafe or unhealthy housing conditions 
  • Applicants must currently reside in the property for which they are requesting rental and utility assistance. 


    Q.  Will some applications be given priority?
    A.  The following applicants will be given priority: 
  • Households whose income is at or below 50% Area Median Income (AMI) 
  • Households where 1 or more individuals of the household is/are unemployed at the time of the application and has/have not been employed for 90 days prior to the application date. 

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 of assistance for the following expenses: 
  • Rent (Future Rent for up to three months*) 
  • past due rent (Rental arrears can be covered for up to 12 months) 
  • utilities - including water, sewer, trash, power, and home energy costs (costs for telephone, cable, or satellite television are not eligible under this program)
  • Other expenses related to housing - including internet service provided to the rental unit, reasonable fees including application or screening fees, late fees, and court fees, and rental security deposits. Costs for telephone, cellphone, cable, or satellite television are NOT eligible under this program.

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, 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 OR Call our partners to apply directly which includes the Birmingham Urban League (205-326-0162), Neighborhood Housing Services of Birmingham (205-328-4292), and Bridge Ministries (205-930-0309).

    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 from 2020 eligible for assistance?
    A.  Yes. Eligible households may receive up to 12 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 householdís rental arrears before the household may receive assistance for future rent payments. Once a householdís 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 which provides $25 billion nationally 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 $13 million to assist landlords and tenants through the Program.

    Q.  How will my household income be calculated?
    A. 
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:
  • Minor children are considered household members. Earned income of minor children is not considered as part of total annual household income.
  • Minor children who are subject to shared custody agreements may be counted as household members if the minor child lives in the residence at least 50% of the time.
  • Temporarily absent family members are considered household members and their income is considered in calculation of household income, regardless of how much the temporarily absent family member contributes to the household.
  • Paid, non-related, live-in aides, whether paid by the family or through a social service program, are not considered household members. Income of live-in aides is not considered in the calculation of household income. Related persons do not qualify as live-in aides.
  • Permanently absent family members, such as a spouse who resides permanently in a nursing home, may be considered a household member, at the discretion of the head of household/program applicant. If the head of household opts to include a permanently absent family member in the household, the income of the permanently absent household member will be counted in the calculation of annual household income. If the head of household chooses not to include the permanently absent family member as part of the household, the income of the permanently absent family member will not be considered in the calculation of annual household income.
  •  

    Household Size (# of people)

     

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    7

    8+

    80% AMI

    $42,950

    $49,100

    $55,250

    $61,350

    $66,300

    $71,200

    $76,100

    $81,000

    50% AMI

    $26,850

    $30,700

    $34,550

    $38,350

    $41,450

    $44,500

    $47,600

    $50,650



    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 will be closed if eligible. 
  • The partner will initiate three (3) consecutive emails and/or phone calls to the landlord to facilitate their enrollment in the program. If the landlord fails to respond within ten (10) days of initial outreach.
  • In applications where supporting documents required from the landlord cannot be provided via email, the partner will notify the Landlord by US mail. Absent any response from the Landlord within fourteen (14) days of posting of the request for enrollment.


    Q.  If Iíve 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 notĖ and will not beĖ paid for by any other rental assistance provider to avoid a duplication of benefit.

    Q.  If Iím 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?
    A. 

1. Identification documentation, may include:

  • ID such as a driverís license
  • REAL ID
  • U.S. passport
  • permanent resident card
  • or other photo identification

2.  Documentation that supports the household income listed in the application (include one of the following):

  • 2020 Tax Filing (form 1040) for all adults in your household
  • 2020 W-2 Earnings Statements from all jobs for all adults
  • Notice of eligibility (dated January 1, 2020 or later) for public benefits based on income from programs such as SNAP, food stamps, Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Medicaid, Medicare, Daycare Assistance, Housing Voucher, Section 8 Housing Assistance, and Public Housing
  • Monthly paystubs for all adult household members for all jobs for the last 2 months
  • Bank statements showing all adult household membersí income and earnings
  • Other evidence of income for all adult household members
  • Self-certification of no income

3. Documentation showing you  have an obligation to pay rent at your address may include

  • signed lease agreement
  • documentation that shows a history of paying rent such as check copies or bank statements
  • a written attestation from the verified owner or management agent of the unit
  • evidence of paying utilities for the residential unit
  • or other reasonable documentation

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:

  • copies of utility bills for the rental unit in the householdís name
  • evidence of rent payments made to the landlord through copies of checks or receipts of rent paid
  • bank statements
  • eviction notice issued to the household or notice of Demand for Payment that lists amounts due by month including fees
  • written attestation by a landlord who can be verified as the legitimate owner or management agent of the unit with sufficient monthly detail
  • landlord ledger establishing past-due amount including dates of service for which there is an outstanding balance, or
  • other documentation that reasonably established a pattern of paying rent and amounts due

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:

    • a notice of approval for unemployment benefits
    • evidence of unemployment payment
    • or other relevant documentation

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:

    • notice from an employer of reduced hours
    • notice from an employer of termination
    • an attestation from an employer regarding a reduction in hours, pay or termination
    • paystubs demonstrating a reduction in pay
    • bank statements demonstrating reduced income
    • COIVD-19 related medical or funeral bills
    • an attestation from a caseworker familiar with your circumstances, or
    • other supporting documentation (including a self-attestation) that shows COVID-19 impact

6. Documentation showing my household is at risk of housing instability or homelessness, which may include:

  • a past due utility or past due rent notice
  • eviction notice
  • documentation of annual income below 30 percent of the median family income for the area
  • evidence of living in a hotel or motel not paid by a charitable or government program, or documentation that you are exiting a publicly funded institution