Maricopa County is now accepting applications for a new Federal Emergency Rental Assistance program to assist those struggling to afford their rent or utility payments just as the nation’s eviction moratorium is set to expire at the end of the month.

The announcement, made through a news release Friday, provides $46.1 million to eligible residents living within the county but outside Phoenix, Mesa, Glendale, Chandler and Gilbert. Those communities will distribute more than $135 million in stimulus funds to residents via their own programs.

The program was part of $900 billion stimulus COVID-19 relief package passed in late December by the federal government. Of that money, $25 billion was allocated for rental assistance to be distributed to states. Arizona was allotted $492 million.

Most of the money, about $290 million, was earmarked specifically for rent and utility payments distributed by Arizona Department of Economic Security.

ELIGIBILITY:

  • Applicants must meet geographic requirements.
  • Applicants must have a household income that is at or below 80% of Maricopa County’s median income, $56,050 for a family of three.
  • Households must also qualify for unemployment benefits or have been affected in some manner because of the COVID- 19 pandemic, either through reduced income or increased expenses.
  • Households must also demonstrate they are at risk of homelessness or housing instability by providing past due notices.

Qualifying households are eligible to receive up to 15 months of assistance for rent and utilities. Priority will go toward those who have been unemployed for the past 90 days or those whose median incomes are no higher than 50% of Maricopa County’s median income, $38,900 for a family of three.

Arizona is in the midst of a housing and homelessness crisis, which has only worsened since the start of the pandemic last spring. At least 210,000 people in Arizona are at risk for eviction, according to a report from the UA Innovation for Justice program and the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

WHERE TO APPLY:

People can apply to the program using the Maricopa County portal. Additional information about the program is available by visiting maricopa.gov/renthelp.

This is a summarized version of an article written by Ralph Chapoco – Arizona Republic USA TODAY NETWORK Reach the reporter at ralph.chapoco@ arizonarepublic.com and follow him on Twitter @rchapoco.