Governor Dan McKee today announced plans for a new rental assistance program for eligible Rhode Island renters struggling to pay their rent or utilities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new program will help low-to-moderate income families negatively impacted by the unprecedented loss of jobs and income due to COVID-19.

“I am proud to announce the launch of the RentReliefRI,” said Governor McKee. “The program will provide assistance to thousands of Rhode Island renters who have been financially harmed by COVID. In the coming months, this program will mean the difference between being able to stay in their homes or becoming homeless for many families. We know that having a safe place to call home is critical and this program will ensure that Rhode Islanders have the resources they need to remain stably housed.”

“During this public health crisis, far too many Rhode Islanders have had to make the difficult choice of deciding between paying their rent or purchasing food or medicine,” said Rhode Island Lt. Governor nominee Sabina Matos. “The McKee Administration’s rent relief program will provide much needed stability and assistance to Rhode Island families who are struggling to cover their rent and utility payments due to the COVID crisis. I thank the Congressional delegation for securing these funds and the Governor for his leadership on this critical issue.”

“These funds are designed to keep people in their homes while also helping property owners who are struggling to keep up with mortgages and maintenance on their rental units. It’s a win for renters, landlords, the community, and public health. It will help prevent homelessness and the need for more expensive interventions down the road,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, who helped include $200 million for rental assistance for Rhode Island in the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA), also known as the ‘Coronabus’ law, which was signed in December.

Funded via $200 million in rent relief funds from the federal Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Program, the new rental assistance program known as RentReliefRI will help eligible Rhode Island renters struggling to pay their rent or utilities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Applicants must meet certain income limits and eligibility requirements.

“Rhode Island families dealing with job losses, fewer shifts, and lower tips are having a hard time covering rent and utilities during this pandemic,” said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “I was proud to help deliver federal funding to give renters the peace of mind of knowing they will be able to stay in their home and keep the lights on while the economy bounces back.”

“Governor McKee’s new rental assistance program has the power to change the lives of so many Rhode Islanders, and I’m thrilled that federal funding could make it possible,” said Congressman Jim Langevin. “Nobody should have to worry about being behind on rent and utility bills while also trying to find work, feed their families, and get back on their feet during a pandemic. RentReliefRI sends a message to Rhode Islanders that we’re here to help.”

“Help is here,” said Congressman David Cicilline. “The American Rescue Plan authorized billions of dollars in emergency rental assistance to make sure no one has to lose their home because of this pandemic. I am pleased that Governor McKee is putting this funding to use in Rhode Island today.”

Rhode Island renters struggling to cover rent and utility payments due to COVID may qualify for up to 12 months of emergency assistance thanks to the new federal relief aid. The program can pay for rent and utilities owed back to April 1, 2020 and can also cover up to three months of upcoming rent and utilities. Renters may apply for help with paying for utilities even if they do not need help paying for rent. There is no monthly cap on eligible rent relief and in some instances, an additional three months of assistance may be available.

“Even before COVID-19, too many people were overburdened by the high cost of housing in our state. For renters and homeowners already on the brink, the pandemic was a breaking point,” said House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi and Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio. “These critical federal funds, spearheaded by Senator Jack Reed, will make sure Rhode Islanders have safe, stable housing they can afford. Housing is a top priority for both the House and Senate, and we have put forth legislation to create sustainable and equitable solutions for our state’s housing needs. This funding will go directly to the people who need it the most.”

An application for rental assistance may be submitted by either an eligible household or by a landlord on behalf of that eligible household. Eligible households must be at or below 80 percent of Area Median Income (AMI), which translates into approximately $69,200 annual income for a family of four in most parts of the State. Funds will be paid directly to landlords and utility service providers.

The program is being administered by RIHousing. Applicants may apply online using one, user-friendly website portal. Community partners and a call center will launch on Monday, April 5. Anyone needing assistance is encouraged to sign up for notifications on RentReliefRI.com and we will notify them when the call center comes online.

“We are committed to working alongside state and community partners to respond to the housing challenges facing Rhode Islanders,” said Carol Ventura, Executive Director of RIHousing. “This new program will help Rhode Island renters stay in their homes while also helping to stabilize the market by helping landlords who have struggled to make their mortgage payments due to lack of rental payments from tenants.”
Program information, eligibility criteria, FAQs, and the sign up for e-alerts can be found online at: www.RentReliefRI.com.

This program is only for renters and their landlords. It does not provide assistance to homeowners having difficulty making their mortgage payments.About RentReliefRIRentReliefRI is being supported, in whole or in part, by federal award number ERA0013 awarded to the State of Rhode Island by the U.S. Department of Treasury.

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