(Cheyenne, WY) – So far, 39 applications and $124K in assistance have been approved for payment through the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).
The federally funded program officially launched on April 29th in Wyoming with $180 million available to eligible renters struggling to make rent, internet, and utility payments. The Wyoming Department of Family Services (DFS), with assistance from the Department of Workforce Services (DWS), is administering ERAP. Learn more and apply at dfs.wyo.gov/erap.
The ERAP application review and payment process is taking longer than the initial estimated four weeks. As of June 1st, 2021, 2.6K applicants have requested over $5.4 million in rent and utility assistance.
“We understand that many are in desperate need of this financial assistance and apologize for the delay,” Department of Family Services Director Korin Schmidt said. “We’ve begun moving applications to payment and are adding case management resources to meet demand.”
If facing eviction or in need of additional help, please Dial 2-1-1 or visit wy211.communityos.org to be connected to available resources or to an organization that can help. Legal Aid of Wyoming may also be able to provide legal assistance to eligible renters living in Wyoming. Visit www.lawyoming.org or call 1-877-432-9955 for Legal Aid.
Schmidt encouraged renters in Wyoming and landlords to apply for ERAP funds.
“We estimate at least 23,000 households in the state may qualify for assistance with making rental payments,” Schmidt said. “Many of those may not have access to computers or need additional help, so we have set up local in-person application assistance in every county.”
“We also understand that there is a need for a homeowners program, which includes mortgage assistance, and we are working on obtaining federal funding to do so,” Schmidt said.
DFS and DWS will be hosting two virtual town hall meetings this week. Recordings of the town halls will be available at dfs.wyo.gov/erap.
- The Homeowners Assistance Fund (HAF) virtual town hall will be held on Tuesday, June 1 at 2 p.m. Please register at https://bit.ly/3wF12W4 The federal American Rescue Plan Act’s Homeowner Assistance Fund provides funding to assist homeowners with mortgage and utility cost relief. We are in the early stages of information gathering for this new program. Funding has not yet been received from the U.S. Treasury.
- The Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) virtual town hall will be held on Wednesday, June 2 at 1 p.m. Please register at https://bit.ly/3hX6z61
ERAP has more flexible eligibility requirements than previous programs, including allowing for self attestation about the direct or indirect economic impact of COVID-19 if documentation cannot be found.
The four eligibility criteria for the program include:
- One or more individuals within the household is obligated to pay rent on a Wyoming residence or has unpaid rent on a previous residence that is located in Wyoming. If living on the Wind River Reservation, renters may be eligible for assistance through the Eastern Shoshone ERAP or Northern Arapaho ERAP.
- Total household income is equal to or less than eighty percent (80%) of the area median income.
- One or more individuals within the household has qualified for unemployment benefits or experienced financial hardship, directly or indirectly, to COVID-19. Financial hardship could include lost wages or increased costs – such as medical or child care – due to COVID.
- One or more individuals within the household can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing stability. Housing instability might look like past due rent, an eviction notice, or living doubled up, with friends or family, or in unsafe living conditions.
Eligible households can obtain assistance for unpaid current and future rent, internet, and utility payments. Eligible utility costs include electricity, energy costs (fuel, oil, propane), water and sewer, and internet service (up to $50 per month). Other eligible expenses, done on a case by case basis, may include reasonable relocation expenses, security deposits, and reasonable late fees. Late fees are limited to ten percent (10%) of the requested rental assistance amount.
Unpaid bills must be for services on or after March 13th, 2020 and can be on a former residence in Wyoming. There is no monetary limit, and eligible applications can receive assistance for up to 15 months. The state anticipates having enough funding available to assist all eligible households who apply.
Local in-person assistance is available in every county – click here for an updated list. There is also a call center, open 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Monday through Friday to help answer questions. The toll-free phone number is 1-877-WYO-ERAP (1-877-996-3727).