Elkhart County Launches COVID-19 Rental Assistance Program

Mar 8, 2021

Credit Elkhart County

Elkhart County renters who have suffered financially from the COVID-19 pandemic are now eligible for emergency assistance through the county's new emergency rental assistance program

 

The federally-funded program is designed to help renters with both past-due and future bills for up to twelve months. Those bills can be for rent, utilities or internet service.

 

Elkhart County Commissioner Suzie Weirick said the county has partnered with local organizations to administer the program and help residents with the application process.

 

“We have local support from organizations like United Way," Weirick said. "They’re going to be the boots on the ground making sure the connections are made if we need to help individuals.”

 

To qualify, renters must have a household income at or below 80 percent of the area median. They also have to have experienced financial hardship due to COVID-19 and demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability.

 

Residents can apply through the county's rental assistance portal or by calling 317-452-8363 for assistance.

 

(You can read more in the release below.)

Elkhart County, Indiana (March 8, 2021) – Elkhart County government has rolled out a rent and utilities assistance program designed to keep families who have experienced COVID-related financial hardship in their homes. The program provides funding to help residents behind in their rent, utilities and/or internet service.

“Eligible Households” are defined as renter households where one or more individuals meet the following three (3) criteria:

  1. Qualifies for unemployment or has experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19;
  2. Demonstrates a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability; and
  3. Has a household income at or below 80 percent of the area median

“This program is made possible by the U.S. Treasury and the Consolidated Appropriations Act,” said Frank Lucchese, Vice President of the County Commissioners. “Elkhart County is among a handful of counties in the state of Indiana that has chosen to administer the program at the local level.”

“While our unemployment rate is low compared to other parts of the country, we still have individuals and families who are suffering financial hardship due to the pandemic,” added Suzie Weirick, President of the Elkhart County Commissioners. “We’re administering the program locally because, for us, it’s personal. We live and work here. We see the hardship up close.”

The program, designed to provide financial assistance for 12 months, can look backward in time up to six months to cover past due bills from that period. For example, if a renter has two months of past due utility bills, that renter’s financial assistance will cover the past due months and 10 months going forward.

Elkhart County government also retains the ability to extend a resident’s assistance an additional 3 months under certain circumstances.   

“The Consolidated Appropriations Act has made this money available, but we’re asking local media to help us get the word out,” added Lucchese. “With your help, we can keep local families in their homes. COVID is not their fault.”

Access to an application portal is now available on the Elkhart County website at elkhartcounty.com/rentalassistance. Instructions are available in English and Spanish. Individuals who need personal assistance filling out the application can call 317-452-8363.

“We’re also creating postcard-sized handouts that local food pantries can distribute,” added Weirick. “They will feature basic information such as the website Elkhart County residents can visit for more information and a phone number they can call. The postcards will also be made in English and Spanish.” 

 

Contact Gemma at gdicarlo@wvpe.org or follow her on Twitter at @gemma_dicarlo.

 

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