Maine State Housing Authority reopened its Emergency Rental Assistance Program March 1 and electronic and paper applications are available. The program was designed to offer help during the COVID-19 pandemic for ongoing and past due rent and utility payments incurred since March 13, 2020.
Eligible households vary by location and size and must be able to prove they are under a certain income and suffering financial difficulty and housing instability. Indicators might include higher utility bills, internet costs, grocery bills, childcare costs and household costs or medical bills incurred due to COVID-19. Indicators of housing instability include past due notices for rent or utilities, borrowing money for rent or eviction notices. Relief is not capped and is based on the outlined rent payment in the lease. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis until September 2021.
Those renting from family can qualify if living in a separate dwelling; those renting to own qualify if household members do not own the property or hold the mortgage. Renters with roommates opting not to apply for assistance and subsidized rents also qualify. The program does not cover mortgage payments or rent already been paid.
Applicants will need to provide either 2020 household income or proof of current household monthly income. This includes: 2020 IRS form 1040 for each household member, pay stubs, W-2’s, 1099’s and Schedules C’s if self-employed, 1099 G’s or Department of Labor ReEmployME account statements, or eligibility determination letters dated after Jan. 1, 2020. Eligibility determination letters would include programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Home Energy Assistance Program or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. MSHA suggests providing an overabundance of information.
The application process also requires communication between the renter and landlord who must fill out a W-9 form and a separate application. Landlords opting out of the process do not jeopardize eligibility as MSHA will continue to work with applicants able to submit a lease or rent receipt. Absence of a receipt does not affect eligibility, but assistance will come in the form of the 100% fair market rate in the applicant’s city/region. Fair market rate for Lincoln County is $797 for efficiency rentals, $802 for one-bedroom, $1,201 for two-bedroom, $1,270 for three-bedroom and $1,642 for four-bedroom.
Denials can be appealed by calling the MSHA Community Action Agency that denied the application and requesting appeal. This ensures a different agent at the CAA reviews the application and, should it be denied again, a second appeal can be brought through MSHA.
Paper applications can be downloaded and printed or mailed by request. Applications and copies of the required documents should be submitted to the local CAA, Midcoast Maine Community Action in Bath: 34 Wing Farm Parkway, Bath, Maine 04530; phone, 442-7963; email: email@example.com
For questions, mailed application requests, second appeals to application denial and all other inquiries, call MSHA at 1-800-452-4668.