Federal Rental Assistance Program Closes to New Applications
RentReliefRI program closes 14 months after its launch, having helped over 30,000 renter households to date
PROVIDENCE, RI – The federally funded RentReliefRI program closes to new applications at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, June 1, 2022. Launched in March of last year, the program provides financial assistance to cover rent arrears, forward facing rent, utility arrears and certain other housing expenses. Funded via the U.S. Treasury, the federally-funded RentReliefRI program provides financial assistance to eligible Rhode Island renters impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We launched the RentReliefRI program during a stressful time for Rhode Island renters due to job losses and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Carol Ventura, Executive Director of RIHousing. “Now, 14 months later, thousands of Rhode Island renter households have been able to remain in their homes, stay current on their rent and utilities and look toward a brighter future.’’
The RentReliefRI program was funded via $200 million from the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (P.L. 116-260) and an additional $152 million in ERA funding in the American Rescue Plan Act (P.L. 117-2). To date, over 30,000 Rhode Island renter households have been approved for more than $200 million in rental and/or utility assistance from the program.
RIHousing announced the closing of the program to new applications early last month as the agency anticipated that all remaining RentReliefRI funds allocated to financial assistance to renters would soon be depleted. Completed applications submitted prior to 11:59 p.m. on June 1, 2022, will continue to be processed and those that meet eligilibity guidelines will be eligible to receive assistance after the closing date, which will be limited to past due rent and utilities, current month’s rent and three (3) months forward-facing rent, after which time there will be no further financial assistance under the RentReliefRI program.
The program’s success was due in part to a vast network of partner agencies who supplied support and application assistance to renters as well as an outreach effort, which included in-person application assistance events at locations across the state. One of the most successful aspects of the program has been the eviction diversion efforts with partner staff located at all Rhode Island courthouses hearing evictions. Partners were able to meet one-on-one with renters and their landlords in order to assist with applications and avoid evictions.
“RIHousing is grateful for the support and partnership received from a wide variety of elected officials, municipalities, state agencies, utility carriers and the non-profit community,” noted Ventura. “Collectively, these partnerships allowed us to reach Rhode Islanders across the state, remove barriers, and assist renter households in accessing these important funds.”
Available statewide, to date, the top ten municipalities based on funding approvals are: Providence, Pawtucket, Woonsocket, Cranston, Central Falls, North Providence, West Warwick, Warwick, East Providence, and Johnston. Program data illustrates that of the approved applications, 61% of applicants represent minority populations, 68% are female heads of household, and 72% are households earning less than 30% area median income (AMI), which translates into roughly $26,500 annual income for a family of four in most parts of the State.
RentReliefRI staff will continue their review of program applications submitted prior to today’s deadline over the coming weeks and months. It is anticipated that the federal funds will all be depleted by September 2022.
Details and information on the status of program applications and funding approvals is available online at www.rihousing.com/rent-relief-