LAKE COUNTY EMERGENCY RENTAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (ERA PROGRAM)

The U.S. Department of the Treasury, Emergency Rental Assistance Program provided Lake County with funds to assist eligible households that are unable to pay rent and utilities due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. General information about this Federal program can be found here: Emergency Rental Assistance Program | U.S. Department of the Treasury

Lake County has earmarked $9 million for rental assistance and $1 million for utility assistance. To apply for rental assistance, scroll down to the bottom or this page and click on the Apply button.  To apply for utility assistance, visit  https://www.uwls.org/.

PROGRAM DETAILS, ELIGIBILITY AND AWARD AMOUNTS SUBJECT TO CHANGE

AWARD

The maximum award for rental assistance per household is $9,000. The maximum award for utility assistance per household is $1,000.

  • Qualified households are eligible to receive up to 12 months of past due rent plus the current month’s rent. An additional two-months of prospective rent (prepaid rent) will be provided to households who have at least one household member on unemployment when the ERA application is submitted. To apply for rental assistance, scroll down to the bottom or this page and click on the Apply button
  • Qualified households are eligible to receive assistance with up to 12 months of past due utility bills plus the current month’s utility charges. To apply for utility assistance visit https://www.uwls.org/.
  • Applicants are only eligible to receive benefit for costs incurred after the household’s COVID-19 financial hardship date. For example: If a household member was unemployed in December and the household's rent is past due since May, the Applicant will only be eligible to receive assistance with past due rent incurred in December and thereafter (past due rent for the months of May to November will be ineligible).

ELIGIBILITY

1) Applicant must live in Lake County and the leased premises must be the Applicant's primary residence.

2) Applicant must be obligated to pay rent. A written lease with terms and conditions is required. The lease must be signed by the tenant and landlord. The minimum terms to be included: landlord name and address, tenant name, leased property address, start date, end date, amount of rent, frequency of payment (monthly, weekly, etc.), clause related to non-compliance with lease terms (example: termination/eviction clause), where/how rent is to be paid and to whom. Other allowable fees must be clearly identified in the lease agreement to be eligible.

3) Applicant’s rent must be past due and past due rent must be the result of a loss of income due to COVID-19.

4) Applicant must demonstrate that the household is at risk of becoming homeless or experiencing housing instability by providing a Lake County Rental Ledger showing the Applicant's housing costs are past due. This form must be signed and dated by the landlord. Click here to access the Lake County Rental Ledger Form. Persons with disabilities needing assistance with this form should contact (352) 742-6539; if you are hearing or voice impaired, call 711 or (352) 253-1840.

5) Total household income for calendar year 2020 must be at or below 80% of the area median income for Lake County. Total household income for 2020 will be determined by adding together the adjusted gross income (IRS Form 1040 Line 11) for each household member that received income in calendar year 2020. Please refer to the Lake County section of the following chart for income limits by household size: 80% 2020 Income Limits.

RESTRICTIONS

1) Landlords may not live in the same unit as tenant(s).

2) No verbal leases allowed.

3) Roommates may apply but are assessed as a total household and income tax returns (IRS Form 1040) will be required for all members of the household that received income in calendar year 2020.

REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION/INFORMATION

1) Written lease with terms and conditions signed by landlord and tenant. The minimum terms to be included: landlord name and address, tenant name, leased property address, start date, end date, amount of rent, frequency of payment (monthly, weekly, etc.), clause related to non-compliance with lease terms (example: termination/eviction clause), where/how rent is to be paid and to whom. Other allowable fees must be clearly identified in the lease agreement to be eligible.

2) Landlord’s mailing address, phone number and email address.

3) For each adult in the household:

  • Government-issued ID AND
  • Official piece of mail that connects the household member to the leased property address AND
  • A completed 2020 Tax Return (Form 1040) for each adult household member that received income in calendar year 2020 (if married filing jointly, only one copy of the return is necessary; however, both adults must be on the joint return. Paper/mailed tax returns must be signed. For e-filing applications, the applicant will need to include a Form 8879 or confirmation page from the tax preparation and filing software/organization.

4) For each minor child in the household, documentation that connects the child to the household (must show the child's name and the household address on the document). Some examples are: 

  • Child listed on tax return
  • Mail in the child's name
  • DCF benefit statement (SNAP, Medicaid, etc.)
  • Medical record
  • Official school record that shows minor child’s name and the leased property address

5) Lake County Rental Ledger Form showing charges, payments, and balances due by month. This form must be signed and dated by the landlord.

6) Gender, race and ethnicity for the Primary Applicant. This information will be collected for reporting purposes only. This information is required by the Federal grantor and will not be used in the decision-making process.

PRIORITIZATION

This is not a first-come, first-serve program. The processing of an application may be delayed if it does not not qualify for at least one of the priority groups below. The Federal government requires applications be prioritized as follows:

1) Households with total household income at or below 50% of the area median income for Lake County. Please refer to the Lake County section of the following chart for income limits by household size: 50% 2020 Income Limits.

2) Households in which one or more individuals are unemployed as of the application date and have not been employed for the 90-day period preceding the application date. 

DEFINITIONS

Household Member. Persons who reside in the household other than a live-in aide (someone who is not obligated for the support of a household member). Includes: head of household; spouse; co-head; other adult; dependents; full-time students over 18; foster children under 18.

Allowable Property Types. Single family homes; multi-family homes; apartments; manufactured homes; condominiums; co-operatives; or other housing rented under contract for a set period.

Rent. The amount a household is contractually obligated to pay on a regular basis to the owner of the property or unit. Allowable rental costs: base rent; late fees; manufactured home lot rental; non-itemized utility costs; pet fees. Costs must be identified in the lease agreement. Security deposits are not considered rent.

Utilities. Utilities and home energy costs are separately-stated charges related to the occupancy of rental property. Accordingly, utilities include separately-stated electricity, gas, water and sewer, trash removal and energy costs, such as fuel oil. Telecommunication services (telephone, cable, Internet) delivered to the rental dwelling are not considered to be utilities. Utilities covered by the landlord within rent will be treated as rent.

Income. Components of Adjusted Gross Income as defined by the IRS. Income includes, but is not limited to, wages, unemployment benefits, pandemic emergency unemployment compensation, alimony, taxable distributions from an IRA, business income, etc.

Unemployment. A payment made by a government or labor union to an unemployed person. Examples: Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) or state Reemployment Assistance.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Please click here to view answers to our frequently-asked questions (FAQ).

FREE TAX PREPARATION

If you have not filed your taxes yet, free tax preparation assistance is available through the United Way of Lake and Sumter Counties VITA program. Taxpayers who have questions about United Way of Lake and Sumter Counties VITA Program can call 352-787-7530, email vita@uwls.org or visit https://bit.ly/3cnsQHm. To make a tax preparation appointment, please dial 2-1-1 and an operator will assist you.

ERA

Need help with your application? For questions about the Emergency Rental Assistance Program call the temporary Help Center at (877) 927-1057. For technical assistance with uploading files or submitting your application, contact Submittable at submittable.com/help/submitter

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