Posted and up to date on 8/6/2021
Have you lost income, had increased expenses, or had some other type of financial hardship during COVID-19?
You might be eligible for help through Maine State Housing Authority's Emergency Rental Assistance Program. This program may help you pay up to 18 months of rent, utility bills, or other expenses that will help you avoid homelessness. We answer some common questions about this program below. The Maine State Housing Authority also provides their own FAQ for tenants about this program.
Are there income limits?
Yes, there are income limits for this program. The income limits are different based on the number of people in your home and where you live. For example, if you live in Washington County and have a household of 2, your household must make less than $43,100 per year. Income limits are higher in some places where it is more expensive to live. Find your income limits.
If you got unemployment benefits after March 13, 2020, you do not need to meet the income limits.
What else will I need to show I qualify?
- You must show that you had a financial hardship. This might mean you lost your job or your hours were reduced. It can also mean that you had increased expenses during COVID-19, like childcare costs or medical bills.
- You also need to show that you are at risk for homelessness or have unstable housing. This might be an eviction notice or owing rent. It can also mean that you are having trouble paying a utility bill, like your electric bill. Maine State Housing Authority has also said a hardship can be that you had to borrow money to pay your bills.
Can I get help if I have a housing voucher or live in subsidized housing?
Maybe. People who have subsidized housing are eligible to apply but must meet the other eligibility factors discussed above. Last fall, the rental assistance program was not available to people living in subsidized housing. But, this rental assistance can help.
Can I get help paying my mortgage if I own my home?
No, this program is only available to renters. But, there should be help on the way for Maine homeowners. Stay tuned for more information.
What if my landlord won’t take the rental assistance?
You should let the agency that processed your application know if your landlord won’t accept it. They can then pay you the money to give to your landlord. If your landlord is trying to evict you, you should call Pine Tree Legal Assistance.
What if I am denied assistance or my landlord is trying to evict me?
I was told I wasn't eligible for this program before August 2021. Should I reapply?
Yes. On August 2nd, the eligibility rules changed. Your financial hardship no longer needs to be related to COVID-19. It just has to have happened during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you think this changes your eligibility, you should reapply.
I was told I wasn't eligible for more assistance because I got 15 months of assistance. Should I reapply?
Yes. Before August 2nd, eligible tenants could get up to 15 months of assistance. That has been increased to 18 months. Tenants who got their 15 months before are now eligible for an additional 3 months. You should reapply.