Money for Rent, Utilities & More in Vermont During the COVID-19 Crisis

Updated 12/1/2022

Can I still get help paying my rent and utilities?

Utilities:

  • You can still submit an application for VERAP utilities only through a new VERAP application until 12/31/2022.
  • These utility benefits will cover 70% of your bill. You are responsible for the other 30%.
  • If you apply for help with your utilities bills through VERAP, contact your utility companies to tell them you applied for help. If you get a disconnection notice, contact your utility provider and give them your application ID number.
  • Utilities include separately stated electricity, gas, water, sewer, trash removal and energy costs, such as fuel oil, wood and pellets.

Rent:

  • Families currently getting Reach Up benefits can get rent paid by applying with their DCF-ESD case worker for RUERA (Reach Up Emergency Rental Assistance).
  • If you are already a VERAP applicant, you may be able to get rent benefits paid by VERAP for utilities only. VERAP is not accepting new applications for rental assistance.
  • The Vermont Emergency Rental Assistance Program (VERAP) is Vermont's rent assistance program. It uses federal funds sent to Vermont to help renters stay stably housed. This money is not a loan you have to pay back and is not taxable income. This program is winding down and the limited benefits you can access are listed below.
    • Rent benefits: For existing applicants who are below 30% Area Median Income (AMI), you can still get 70% of your rent paid until the program ends or you reach 18 months of assistance, whichever comes first.
  • Who cannot get continued rent benefits from VERAP?
    • Tenants who applied after 9/30/2022.
    • Tenants who get subsidized rent that goes with their building, or tenants who get rent subsidies through a Section 8 or Housing Choice voucher, or other subsidies.
    • Tenants with income over 30% AMI. Your rent benefits ended 11/30/2022.
    • Applicants who already got 18 months of rent benefits from VERAP or RUERA are not eligible for any further extensions.

How do I get help?

FAQs about VERAP

Can I pay “back rent” to my current landlord?

If you are eligible, VERAP can pay your rent for a total of 18 months, including months of back rent, current rent and future rent. If back rent is owed, you must allocate at least one month to back rent.

  • VERAP can pay unpaid rent accrued after April 1, 2020. You need to choose how many months of “arrears” (back rent) you want VERAP to pay. Months paid toward back rent use up months of future rent eligibility. 
  • You can adjust how much back rent you want to pay.
  • VERAP can pay prospective (future) rent for three months. If you need more than three months, you will return to your application and make a new request.

You will decide:

  • how many months of future rent out of your 18-month limit you want VERAP to pay, and
  • how many months of back rent out of your 18-month limit  you want VERAP to pay.

Who gets the payments – the tenant or landlord?

When you applied for VERAP, you filled out a tenant application. Your landlord could have already filled out a landlord application. If not, VERAP will send a notice to your landlord to fill out a landlord application.

Normally, VERAP will make rent payments directly to your landlord. VERAP will make three attempts to reach the landlord by phone, text, or email over five days. If they do not respond or say they do not want to participate, VERAP will send you the money for you to pay your landlord. The tenant will have to verify to VERAP that they used the money to pay their landlord by providing proof every month. If proof of payment is not submitted, no future payments will be made until the proof is submitted.

If I move, can VERAP pay my new landlord?

Yes. You have to tell VERAP about the move two weeks before you move. Otherwise, your old landlord will get the VERAP payments.

I am in a Reach Up Program. Can I get VERAP?

No, and yes. If you currently participate in one or more of the following Vermont programs, you are not eligible for rent assistance from VERAP. However, you may be eligible for emergency rent help from the Department for Children and Families. And you are eligible for help from VERAP with utilities and other expenses related to housing.

  • Reach Up
  • Reach First
  • Reach Ahead
  • Reach Up Post-Secondary Education Program (PSE)
  • Child-only households with at least one parent who gets SSI.

My rent is already subsidized. Am I eligible for VERAP?

No. As of October 1, 2022, if you get a monthly federal subsidy such as Section 8, Housing Choice voucher, or project-based subsidy, you cannot get VERAP for the tenant portion of the rent.

How does the program affect my taxes?

  • Renters who get VERAP payments should not include those payments in their gross income for tax purposes. VERAP payments are not taxable income for tenants.
  • For landlords or utility providers that get VERAP money on behalf of their. You will get a Form 1099 for these payments.
  • For more information, read this IRS web page.

How do VERAP rent payments affect my renter credit (rebate)?

For renters who get subsidies, your renter credit will be based on actual rent paid. Your landlord will submit information to the Vermont Department of Taxes (VDOT). If you file a renter credit form, VDOT will calculate your credit for you. If you got financial help to pay your rent from VERAP, that amount will not be counted when figuring your renter credit.

How do I get help with the application?

If you need help with VERAP documentation questions or appealing a denial, contact one of these agencies. Follow this link for contact information for:

  • BROC Community Action
  • Capstone Community Action
  • CVOEO Community Action
  • SEVCA Community Action
  • USCRI (for New Americans, statewide)

What if I have a housing problem right now?

If you have an immediate housing problem, such as an eviction, see our housing information here on VTLawHelp.org and contact us for help.

A note to Vermont landlords

Do you have questions about VERAP? You can get answers from the VERAP call center (call 1-833-488-3727), or the Vermont Landlord Association (call 802-985-2764 or 1-888-569-7368). You do not need to be a member of the association to get information on VERAP. You can also contact CVOEO if you are in Addison County (call 802-388-2285), Chittenden (call 802-863-6248 ext. 755), Franklin or Grand Isle Counties (call 802-338-5517). Or contact Groundworks Collaborative in Windham County (call 802-257-5415), or Upper Valley Haven in Windsor and Orange Counties (call 802-295-6500).

 

 

 

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Updated: Dec 01, 2022