Here is a list of Frequently Asked Questions that may help with questions or concerns you may have.
When will rental assistance be available?
The application portal opens on March 24th at 8am
Are there different types of rental assistance?
Yes, we are offering Eviction Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) and Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA). Each has different rules and contract requirements. SNAP currently has limited ERAP dollars and expects them to be spent out quickly. If you would like more information about ERAP, you can read the FAQ’s HERE.
Who is eligible to receive ERA assistance?
The funds provided in ERA are to provide financial assistance and housing stability services to eligible households. To be eligible, a household must be obligated to pay rent on a residential dwelling and the grantee must determine that:
- one or more individuals within the household has qualified for unemployment benefits or experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to the COVID-19 outbreak, and;
- one or more individuals within the household can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability; and
- the household has a household income at or below 80% of area median income.
Who should apply?
You can find the full list of eligibility qualifications for rental assistance by reviewing this grid HERE.
We also are aware that our neighbors from underserved populations have been disproportionally affected by COVID-19. Because of that, we want to be equitable in how we provide access to rental assistance to repair these pre-existing gaps in equity.
To that end, we recognize that this may cause ERAP, in particular, to fill up quickly as a result of the immense need and applications submitted through members of disproportionately impacted partner organizations. If you are a City of Spokane resident, please know that we see your need. We know the need is immense. The limited funding we received, however, may mean you do not make this round of rental assistance. We do however believe there will be additional rental assistance funds coming to our community including the Treasury Rental Assistance Program.
How should applicants document that a member of the household has qualified for unemployment benefits, experienced a reduction in income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship due to the COVID-19 outbreak?
Documentation that one or more members of the applicant’s household either (i) qualified for unemployment benefits or (ii) experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to the COVID-19 outbreak. If relying on clause (i) for this determination, a written attestation signed by the applicant or other relevant documentation regarding the household member’s qualification for unemployment benefits. If relying on clause (ii) for this determination, the Act requires a written attestation signed by the applicant that one or more members of the household meets this condition.
Why are there so many rules and forms?
SNAP administers federal dollars that come with rules and requirements we must contractually comply with. While SNAP is a steward of taxpayer dollars we continue to advocate for the reduction of paperwork and the removal of barriers that may prevent clients from accessing service.
How to determine that an individual within a household is at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability?
The Act requires that one or more individuals within the household can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability, which may include (i) a past due utility or rent notice or eviction notice, (ii) unsafe or unhealthy living conditions, or (iii) any other evidence of risk, as determined by the grantee.
The Act limits eligibility to households with income that does not exceed 80 percent of the median income for the area in which the household is located, as determined by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). How will income be documented and verified?
Methods for Income Determination: The Act provides income eligibility based on either (i) the household’s total income for calendar year 2020, or (ii) sufficient confirmation of the household’s monthly income at the time of application requires a written attestation from the applicant as to household income and also documentation available to the applicant to support the determination of income, such as paystubs, W-2s or other wage statements, tax filings, bank statements demonstrating regular income, or an attestation from an employer.
Categorical Eligibility: If an applicant’s household income has been verified to be at or below 80 percent of the area median income in connection with another local, state, or federal government assistance program, grantees are permitted to rely on a determination letter from the government agency that verified the applicant’s household income, provided that the determination for such program was made on or after January 1, 2020.
The Act provides that ERA funds may be used for rent and rental arrears. How should an applicant document where an applicant resides and the amount of rent or rental arrears owed?
Applicants must supply, if available, a current lease, signed by the applicant and the landlord or sublessor that identifies the unit where the applicant resides and establishes the rental payment amount. If a household does not have a signed lease, documentation of residence may include evidence of paying utilities for the residential unit, an attestation by a landlord who can be identified as the verified owner or management agent of the unit, or other reasonable documentation as determined by the SNAP. In the absence of a signed lease, evidence of the amount of a rental payment may include bank statements, check stubs, or other documentation that reasonably establishes a pattern of paying rent, a written attestation by a landlord who can be verified as the legitimate owner or management agent of the unit, or other reasonable documentation as defined by the grantee in its policies and procedures.
Must a grantee pay for all of a household’s rental or utility arrears?
No. The full payment of arrears is allowed up to the 12-month limit established by the statute. Grantees may help with an additional three months if the grantee determines that further assistance is necessary to ensure housing stability. Not to exceed a total of 12 months.
The Act provides that ERA funds may be used for “utilities and home energy costs” and “utilities and home energy costs arrears.” How are those terms defined and how should those costs be documented?Utilities and home energy costs are separately stated charges related to the occupancy of rental property. Accordingly, utilities and home energy costs include separately stated electricity, gas, water and sewer, trash removal, and energy costs, such as fuel oil. Payments to public utilities are permitted.
All payments for utilities and home energy costs should be supported by a bill, invoice, or evidence of payment to the provider of the utility or home energy service.
Utilities and home energy costs that are covered by the landlord will be treated as rent.
Are internet cost an eligible expense that is covered?
Yes, if internet service provided to a residence is related to housing and is a vital service that allows renters to engage in distance learning, telework, and telemedicine and obtain government services.
Must a beneficiary of the rental assistance program have rental arrears?
No, but priority is given to those households that have rental arrears.
Is there a limit on financial assistance for future rent?
Yes. Future rent payments are limited to three months based on any application by or on behalf of the household, except that the household may receive assistance for future rent payments for additional months (i) subject to the availability of remaining funds currently allocated to the grantee, and (ii) based on a subsequent application for additional assistance provided that the total months of assistance provided to the household do not exceed 12 months.
The statute requires that ERA payments not be duplicative of any other federally funded rental assistance provided to an eligible household. Are tenants of federally subsidized housing, e.g., Low Income Housing Credit, Public Housing, or Indian Housing Block Grant-assisted properties, eligible for ERA?
An eligible household that occupies a federally subsidized residential or mixed-use property may receive ERA assistance, provided that ERA funds are not applied to costs that have been or will be reimbursed under any other federal assistance.
If an eligible household receives a monthly federal subsidy (e.g., a Housing Choice Voucher, Public Housing, or Project-Based Rental Assistance) and the tenant rent is adjusted according to changes in income, the renter household may receive ERA assistance for the tenant-owed portion of rent or utilities that is not subsidized.
Can a renter household get utility or energy cost covered without also covering rent?
May a grantee provide ERA assistance to homeowners to cover their mortgage, utility, or energy costs?
Are undocumented households eligible?
Yes, documentation stays local and is given to funder in an aggregate form so they never see who applies.