But the rent is still due. For people who relied on those defenses, this month could mark the start of new challenges.
“Urgent rent assistance should be a priority,” said Priscilla Almodovar, CEO of Enterprise Community Partners, a national nonprofit that develops affordable housing. “It is a key factor in avoiding evictions that mean homeless.”
“I expect we will see a lot of families introduced to cleanliness as we start the school year, which is already fraught with complications,” said Erin O. Planalp, managing attorney at Iowa Legal Aid. “But I hope we can build our connections in the community and partner with landowners to try to give people a little more time.”;
For people who are unable to pay rent this month, the good news is that there may be more resources for rent relief than when the pandemic started.
Know what protection you have
If you are unable to pay your rent, talk to your landlord. Many will agree to receive partial payments or set up a payment plan. But if you still can not rent, you need to know what protection you have to avoid eviction.
Eviction moratoriums, which are bans on landlords or making a request to carry out a tenant eviction, were put in place to protect tenants from losing their home during the health crisis. But they have been delightful and confusing. There were moratoriums at the federal or local level, for different types of homes and for different amounts of time.
At this point, tenants are more likely to be protected by a local moratorium, which may be extended or remain in place.
But regardless of the eviction moratorium protection you may be in control of, the rent is not forgiven. The unpaid rent is still in debt and will eventually have to be paid to avoid eviction.
You manage to find relief funds
The CARES Act allocated money to states and communities to use to facilitate rents. But connecting tenants in need with money is difficult, legal aid workers say.
For anyone who has not rented, it is difficult to understand how difficult it is to live in a state of emergency, Planalp said. “There is this fight or flight response. Just taking steps to understand this for you and your family is so difficult.”
“There’s a lot of funding out there,” Planalp said. “But there are many programs and each program has its own criteria.”
Still, much of this relief fund leaves people, she said. Tenants who are undocumented or without legal status are not eligible for the CARES Act relief.
“The help is there,” Planalp said. “We have to connect people with the right program and give them enough time to apply so that they get the relief they need before they lose their home.”