MaineHousing is extending its COVID-19 Rental Relief Program into November for tenants who have been unable to afford their rent due to job loss or other employment complications caused by the pandemic.

MaineHousing has about $4 million left in its COVID-19 Rental Relief fund, Cara Courchesne, spokeswoman for the independent state agency, said on Monday. The program has helped about 14,000 renter households since it began offering assistance to Mainers in April.

In September, the state received an infusion of $10 million to its rent relief program. September’s allocation, a continuation of federal coronavirus relief funds granted to Maine in March, allowed the state to accept applications for assistance through Sept. 30. Courchesne explained that not all of the $10 million was allocated by Sept. 30 and about $4 million remains.

No additional funds have been allocated for rent relief in 2020, Courchesne said.

Under the program guidelines, renters are eligible to apply for up to $1,000 per month of rental assistance, which can be applied to October and November rent. If there is enough money remaining in the COVID fund after that, tenants may apply for up to $1,000 toward their December rent. December rent assistance applications cannot be filed until Nov. 23.

COVID-19 rent relief benefits are paid directly to the landlord or property management company. Any landlord accepting the funds must agree not to evict the tenant during the months covered by the COVID-19 funds.

“When we received additional funds allocated by Governor Mills in September, our projections showed that we would run out of money after issuing payments to help cover September rent,” Daniel Brennan, director of MaineHousing, said in a statement. “We are glad that we’re able to extend help to more Mainers in need. We are grateful to Governor Mills for her leadership and support as so many Mainers struggle to make ends meet.”

Tenants can get details about the program and apply for rental relief by visiting mainehousing.org/covidrent. Applications are processed on a first-come, first-served basis and are managed by Maine’s Community Action Agencies.

“We want to be sure people know that even if they applied and received funds during other phases of this program, they can reapply now if they still need help paying their rent,” Brennan said.

Renters most likely to be eligible include people laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as those whose employers have been forced to close, who have experienced a reduction in works hours, and those who must stay home to care for children.

 

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