Here’s how Georgians can apply for rental assistance through state’s $552M program

The state's rent program totals $522 million. (Dreamstime/TNS)
The state's rent program totals $522 million. (Dreamstime/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

In the last year, cities and counties across Georgia have launched rent relief programs to help families who are struggling to pay rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, the state launched its own $552 million rental assistance program using new federal funds.

Tenants across Georgia can now use an online portal to determine if they are eligible and apply to have up to a year of their rent covered. Payments are made directly to landlords.

Landlords and utility providers can also apply on behalf of tenants; funds can be used for back rent, current and future rent and utility payments.

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According to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, renters must meet the following conditions to qualify:

  • Qualified for unemployment benefits or experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship due directly or indirectly due to the pandemic;
  • Demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability;
  • Have a household income at or below 80% of the area median income. Priority is given to households below 50% of the AMI or households with one or more people who have been unemployed for three months or longer.

Payments will generally not exceed 12 months of rent, the state said, though some homes may qualify for up to 15 months based on their circumstances.

“The state of Georgia is pleased to be able to provide this rental relief to those who have fallen behind in rent and utility bills due to the pandemic,” Tonya Cureton Curry, the deputy commissioner of housing for the department of community affairs, said in a statement. “We encourage renters and landlords to check the online portal immediately to determine if they are eligible. It’s our hope this assistance will help lessen the financial burdens many Georgian families and individuals are facing.”

The funding comes from the U.S. Treasury’s $25 billion Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which was part of the stimulus bill passed by Congress and signed into law by former President Donald Trump in late December.

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In the last year, housing experts and advocates have grown concerned that the pandemic would lead to a wave of evictions as more renters lose wages and fall behind on rent. Tens of thousands of evictions have been filed in the last year in metro Atlanta alone, but a federal moratorium is stopping evictions from taking place if they are based solely on non-payment of rent.

That moratorium is set to expire at the end of March.

Renters can visit www.georgiarentalassistance.ga.gov to apply for the relief program.

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