The second stimulus bill settled after months of negotiations was worth $900 billion. It was approved in late December 2020, which included the second round of stimulus checks, unemployment benefits, and local and $25 billion rental assistance. 

Emergency Rental Assistance Program

The New Stimulus Bill Includes $25 Billion in Rental Assistance. Here's How to Apply
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Uncertainty Surrounds Tenants Behind On Rent As Expiration Of NY State Eviction Moratorium Looms NEW YORK, NY - JULY 31: Housing activists gather to protest alleged tenant harassment by a landlord and call for cancellation of rent in the Crown Heights neighborhood on July 31, 2020 in Brooklyn, New York. Since the onset of the coronavirus crisis, millions of Americans have fallen behind on rent payments, leading many to speculate that an eviction crisis and drastic rise in homelessness is inevitable unless drastic action is taken by state and federal lawmakers.

Recently, WPTV reported that Florida is set to receive nearly $850 million in rental assistance from the new COVID-19 relief package Congress has passed. On Tuesday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced in a statement; the state submitted confirmation to the Department of the Treasury that Florida will participate in the Emergency Rental Assistance Program.

Meanwhile, Santa Cruz county CA officials announced they have applied for funding through the emergency rental assistance program to help households who are struggling with paying their rent due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Consolidated Appropriations Acts authorized the $25 billion fund provided for emergency rental support nationally. 

But the county's grant amount has not been confirmed, although it is estimated at $8 million, said the officials. According to Patch via MSN, funds may be used to pay home energy costs, utilities, rent and utilities, and qualified tenants' related housing costs.

If you want to get assistance as you have trouble making ends meet and exhausted your savings, you may apply for the federal benefit. Here are the things you need to know to be qualified for the rental assistance, as per USA Today:

Am I eligible for rental assistance?

To qualify for rental assistance, your household must have at least one eligible person for unemployment benefits or proof of loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can also qualify if you prove that your household incurred a substantial uptick in expenses.

Through the provided copies of past-due rent statements of notices from the landlord, you should prove that you are at risk of homelessness in the absence of aid. Besides, your 2020 income should not exceed 80% of your area's median income. 

Therefore, the states have been guided to prioritize very-low-income applicants who have 50% or less salary of a given area's median income and those who are jobless for 90 days or more. On the contrary, many people meet the latter qualifications in today's economy.

Read also: New York Bans Evictions for Nearly Two Months, Will It be a Better or Worse Situation After?

How can I apply for rental assistance?

The rental assistance application process will be based on the state where you live. However, states must provide the funds by January 20. By contacting your state's housing department, or your local helplines, you could start the process and see how you can apply for rental assistance.

You may be eligible for up to 12 months if you qualify for it. The benefits are worth of back rent and utilities, as well as another three months' worth of the fund if enough. Any funds that you qualified to receive will go directly to your landlord or utility provider as your payment.

Read also: CDC Warns of Possible Surge in COVID-19 Cases as Eviction Ban Nears End