As eviction moratorium end looms, rental assistance money remains available

MADISON, Wis. – The federal eviction moratorium put in place because of the pandemic has been extended an additional month, likely for the final time.

On Thursday, the Biden administration announced the ban on evictions will end July 31.

That sets the clock ticking for renters to secure rent payments they may have missed during the pandemic.

“The time is running out on this moratorium,” said Nancy Jensen, a spokesperson for the Apartment Association of South Central Wisconsin, which offers resources for housing providers. “It’s been in place a long time, so if you haven’t availed yourself of funding made available in the last few months, now is the time to do it. There’s a backlog of requests and applications.”

The Dane CORE emergency rental assistance program began accepting applications from tenants and landlords in February. So far, the program has distributed about $5.5 million of the $15 million in federal funds, according to Dane County Executive Joe Parisi.

“Folks lost their jobs for months and months,” Parisi said. “Some of the hardest hit by the pandemic are the folks we’re trying to help.”

According to data from the Tenant Resource Center, 10,536 applications have been submitted, while 3,771 remain incomplete. About $10 million in help has been requested. Of total applications, about a third are incomplete, a third have resulted in an issued payment, and a third are awaiting or under review.

To qualify for rental assistance during the pandemic, the tenant originally had to make 60% or less of the area median income, but that recently was upped to 80%. That translates to $57,760 for a household of one. Those who owe rent for places they no longer live can also apply, assuming they meet the other criteria, Jensen said.

Officials are working to raise awareness of the program and assist applicants through what can be a lengthy process.

Parisi said there’s not a time limit on distributing the federal funds.

“The money is there until it’s out the door,” he said.

But Jensen said it’s possible the moratorium’s approaching end will encourage more people to apply for assistance.

“This funding is a godsend,” she said, adding that expanded criteria to qualify for the program is a boost. “Not as many people are sitting worried about eviction right now as we initially thought. We’re finding more and more owners are saying their residents found ways to pay rent or they’ve accommodated them.”

Jensen said those behind on rent they shouldn’t wait around.

“Apply for this program right now,” she said. “It will take some time, but I think it will help you if you did wind up in eviction, because they are meeting you in the courts and you can demonstrate you have applied, and I think that will be beneficial.”

Those interested in applying can visit the Tenant Resource Center website, which offers application assistance, as well.