Applications still welcome from those eligible for aid because of financial problems stemming from COVID-19 pandemic
Just before the end of 2021, Sarasota County staff announced that the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) had disbursed $6.5 million in rental and utility assistance to community members suffering negative financial consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The $6.5 million represents about 50% of the program’s funds, a county news release noted.
In the previous report, issued in early November 2021, county staff announced that $5 million had been disbursed.
“By providing the $6.5 million in assistance, ERAP has helped 718 households across Sarasota County and paid a combined total of 7,005 months of rent and utilities,” the release said.
To be eligible for the assistance, a rental household cannot have income that is higher than 80% of Annual Median Income (AMI) of the North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton Metropolitan Statistical Area. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sets the AMI each year. For 2021, 80% of AMI for a Sarasota County household with four people was $61,750; for two people, it was $43,250.
HUD typically releases the AMI figures several months into each New Year, as The Sarasota News Leader has observed.
“Sarasota County ERAP continues to accept applications and is committed to identifying opportunities to streamline the application process as updated guidance is provided from the U.S. Department of Treasury,” the release pointed out.
“The Sarasota County program received a total of $13.1 million from the U.S. Department of Treasury, with 90 percent ($11.8 million) available for financial assistance to eligible Sarasota County households,” the release explained.
“Eligible households may receive up to 12 months of assistance, plus an additional three months if the [recipient] determines the extra months are needed to ensure housing stability and grantee funds are available,” the county website notes. “Households may reapply for additional assistance at the end of the three-month period,” if needed, and the overall time limit for assistance has not been exceeded, the county website says.
For more information on ERAP eligibility and required documents, plus FAQs [frequently asked questions], and details about program ambassadors, visit scgov.net/rent or call 941-861-RENT (7368).
The ambassadors are volunteers who are stationed at various sites countywide to assist persons who need help with filing applications for the funding assistance.