To prove a “COVID-related hardship,” applicants have to show documentation demonstrating that they lost their income source due to COVID-19, received unemployment benefits after March 2020 or suffered other pandemic-related situations that caused them to lose income.
“We knew it was going to be an uphill battle,” said Cobb County spokesman Ross Cavitt. “By the time we got the $40 million, it was difficult for applicants to provide a COVID hardship that would qualify them.”
ERA funds not distributed to renters by Dec. 29 will be reclaimed by the federal government, which is why the state “requested that we reallocate a portion of those funds to a local jurisdiction in order to keep the funding in Georgia,” Blair said.
The federal ERA program includes two levels of funding. ERA 1 funds must be distributed to those facing hardship due to COVID-19. ERA 2 funds — of which Cobb received $7 million in April — do not share that requirement.
Once the money is rerouted, Cobb will have $16 million in ERA 1 funding left to be distributed through the December deadline. The county outsourced the application process to nonprofits. Individuals who qualify can apply through the nonprofits, which work with the county to approve applications and distribute the funds.