Applications still welcome from people with income distress as a result of pandemic
The Sarasota County Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) has disbursed more than $5 million in rental and utility assistance to community members who have lost income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the county has announced.
By providing the $5 million in assistance, ERAP has helped 628 households across Sarasota County, paying a total of 4,058 months of rent and 1,319 months of utilities bills, a news release points out.
In January, the county received $13 million from the federal government to launch the program.
“Eligible households may receive up to 12 months of assistance, plus an additional three months if the [county application review] determines the extra months are needed to ensure housing stability” and funds are available, the county ERAP webpages explain.
Priority is given to households with income below 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI), which is determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); and to households in which one or more people are unemployed or have not been employed for the 90 days prior to submission of an application for assistance, the webpages point out.
The 2021 AMI for the North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton Metropolitan Statistical Area is $77,200, HUD has determined. For a family of four, 50% of AMI — which is characterized as “Very Low” — would be $38,600. For the same size family, 80% of AMI would be $61,750.
Ambassadors working at six locations countywide have had more than 2,600 interactions with applicants, the release notes.
“Sarasota County ERAP is committed to identifying opportunities to streamline the application process as updated guidance is provided from the U.S. Department of Treasury,” the release says. As with the dispersal of CARES Act funds last year, county administrative staff has voiced the necessity of verifying the eligibility of applicants and complying with all the necessary ERAP criteria. The goal is to ensure that the county will not have to end up paying back to the federal government any of the money it has given recipients.
For more information on ERAP eligibility and required documents, frequently asked questions, and program ambassadors, visit scgov.net/rent or call 941-861-RENT (7368) from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.