Finding Rental Assistance in 2021

By Doug Cowan, President & CEO

Community Services League

At the end of 2020, many organizations, like CSL, were feverishly spending CARES Act dollars to support local families. CSL accessed CARES Act dollars through contracts with Jackson County (via United Way of Greater Kansas City), the City of Blue Springs, the City of Independence, and the City of Oak Grove. We spent money quickly to comply with a December 30, 2020 CARES Act spending deadline. All told, CSL helped more than 3,000 area families with nearly $3,000,000 in rental and utility assistance programs. (On a side note, Congress extended the CARES Act spending deadline to December 31, 2021, but the extension happened so close to the deadline that CSL spent all of its contracted funds.)

Families continue to struggle, as many of our neighbors remain out of work or underemployed. We continue to receive requests for rental and utility assistance. For Missouri residents, additional help may be close by.

Today (January 4, 2021), the application portal for the Missouri Emergency Rental Arrears Program (ERAP), operated by the Missouri Housing Development Commission, has opened. The ERAP is open to applications from landlords for assistance. Here are some program highlights:

- The ERAP can provide landlords with a one-time payment of up to six months' worth of past due rent, going back as far as April 1, 2020

- If approved, the landlord must waive all late fees and penalties

- If approved, the landlord must sign a guarantee of non-eviction of the tenant for at least 120 days

- The tenant and landlord will fill out information that verifies the tenant's income level and that it meets a threshold

- There are maximum amounts, based on the number of bedrooms in the dwelling, that will be paid to the landlords

If you are a tenant facing delinquency, you are encouraged to collaborate with your landlord and apply immediately at Additional program information can be found here. If you run into questions along the way, please do not contact CSL. There is an ERAP contact form available for inquiries.

CSL has done business with the Missouri Housing Development Commission, an instrumentality of the State of Missouri, for years, and we encourage our neighboring families to explore this, but we caution you to act quickly. I read a news report that identified that the ERAP has approximately $15 million in funding, but as a statewide program, it will go fast. Like most government-supported funds, an application will require the tenant and landlord to complete several forms. It is worthy to note that CSL does not receive any funding related to the ERAP, nor are we being compensated in any way to promote this.

A big part of CSL's work is a connection to resources for local families, and we're sharing this information in the hopes that it will be helpful for many families.

To help families improve their long-term economic opportunities, we encourage applications to our New Skills initiative, which connects workers to new skill/training opportunities. We are actively fill 2021 training cohorts, so apply today!

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