Money for Rent in Vermont During the COVID-19 Crisis

Updated 4/16/2021 12:30 p.m.

Vermont Emergency Rental Assistance Program (VERAP) – Now available

Do you need help paying rent, need money to move, or help paying utilities? Learn about VERAP, a new rent and utilities assistance program.

PLEASE NOTE: The VERAP application website and call center aren’t working well right now. We know they are working on it, and are hopeful the problems will be corrected in the next days or weeks. Learn more about the program and its requirements below. We will update the information on this page.

What is VERAP?

The Vermont Emergency Rental Assistance Program (VERAP) was created to help renters dealing with financial challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. For eligible households, the program offers rental and utility assistance to help Vermonters avoid eviction or loss of utility service. VERAP was established by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. 

What does VERAP include?

VERAP helps tenant households with paying rent, past-due rent balances (also known as “arrears”), utility and home energy costs, utility and home energy cost arrears, and other expenses related to housing. Utilities include separately stated electricity, gas, water, sewer, trash removal and energy costs, such as fuel oil, wood and pellets.

What are the benefits?

  • Maximum 12 months of rent and back rent (“arrears”); but no arrears prior to April 1, 2020. If you have arrears, you must put at least one month of your VERAP grant toward arrears. Assistance for current rent is approved three months at a time.
  • Utility costs including electricity, gas, water, sewer, trash removal and energy costs, such as fuel oil, wood and pellets
  • Expenses to fix unhealthy housing conditions, pay for internet service, or relocation costs

What VERAP programs are available?

•    Rent assistance — Available
•    Utilities for renters — Check availability soon
•    Money to move — Available
•    Other expenses related to housing (moving costs, repairs, red-tagged fuel tanks, bedbugs, etc.) — Check availability soon

You can apply for rent-related help first and return later to your application to apply for other help.

What types of rentals are eligible?

Your household may be eligible if:

  1. You rent an apartment or house. 
  2. You have been homeless but you now have a landlord willing to rent to you. You will need a rental agreement or a lease for the new rental unit. You need a lease to show you have a rental obligation even if you have not moved in yet. 
  3. You rent a mobile home or mobile home lot. 
  4. You get a monthly federal rental subsidy. You may be able to get help for the tenant-owed portion of rent that is not subsidized. 
  5. You pay to live in a recovery residence or sober home. Also, if you rent temporary housing because you relapsed and can’t stay in a residence. You must be able to show an obligation to pay rent. 
  6. Your permanent residence is a motel. 
  7. You live in a Residential Care Home and you pay rent. The rent portion may be eligible. 

I am in a Reach Up Program. Am I eligible for VERAP?

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 assistance from the Department for Children and Families.     

  • 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?

If you get a monthly federal subsidy such as Section 8, Housing Choice voucher, or project-based subsidy, you can get VERAP for the tenant portion of the rent. VERAP funds cannot be applied to costs that have been or will be reimbursed under any other federal assistance program.

Before applying for VERAP, tell your housing program about changes in your income so they can update your portion of the rent. 

How do I know if I am eligible for VERAP?

If you apply to VERAP, you are applying for your entire household. A household is defined as all adults and children living or planning to live at the rental premises who have made an agreement with the landlord or owner to pay rent.

To be eligible, your household must meet all four eligibility criteria:

  1. Categorical eligibility: You must be obligated to pay rent on a residential dwelling in the State of Vermont. 
  2. Financial eligibility: Your annual household income is at or below 80% of Area Median Income. See a chart of the income limits.
  3. Financial hardship due to COVID-19 eligibility: One or more people in your household has qualified for unemployment benefits or experienced a reduction in household income. Or someone has incurred significant costs or experienced other financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  4. Risk of housing instability eligibility: One or more people in your household can demonstrate a risk of housing instability. This means that you are behind on rent, have unhealthy housing conditions or one or more people in your household pays more than 30% of their income for rent.

What documents do I need to show that my household is eligible? 

1. What is required to show I am “obligated to pay rent at a residential dwelling”?

You can use one of four ways to show that you are obligated to pay rent at a residential dwelling.

  • Preferred: A current lease signed by the landlord and you or another household member. The lease needs to identify the unit where you live and show the current rent amount. OR
  • A statement from your landlord that includes your address and rent amount. OR
  • Cancelled checks, bank statements or rent receipts that show a pattern of payment, plus a bill addressed to you at the address of your rental unit showing where you live. OR
  • If you can provide satisfactory evidence that you live at your address, but you can’t document your rent, you can “attest” to your rent amount. An attestation is when you swear that the information you give is true. You can do the attestation on the application form.    
    • If you have to attest to your rent amount, there is a limit to how much the program will pay per month in rent assistance.

2. What is required to show financial eligibility?

VERAP has income limits.

You can choose which way you want to show that your household income is at or below the program income limits. You have to include the income for all adult household members and any benefits you get for a child.

  • Document your household’s total income for calendar year 2020 with a 2020 tax return, or 2020 W2s or 1099s. You can also use benefit statement records for all household members. If you can establish eligibility based on the whole year of 2020 income, you will not need to establish financial eligibility again. OR
  • Document all your household’s income at the time of application, including wages, unemployment, self-employment, social security, pensions, child support, alimony, etc. With this method, you will need to verify your financial eligibility every 3 months. Here’s how to figure your annual income based on your current income at the time of application.
    • First add up all the income you and your household members receive each month and multiply it by 12. 
    • Next, if a household member has weekly income, multiply it by 52. If someone gets paid every two weeks, multiply that by 26. If someone gets paid twice a month, multiply it by 24. 
    • Add up all the annualized income (wages and other monthly income). 
    • Compare that to the number for your household size and county on https://erap.vsha.org/income-limits/ to see if you likely meet the VERAP income limits. 

3. What is required to show financial hardship due to COVID-19 eligibility?

You can choose one of four ways to show financial hardship due to COVID-19.

  1. If someone in your household is getting unemployment, make a copy of their benefit award letter.  If someone believes they qualify for unemployment, you can attest to that on the application.
  2. On the application, you can attest (state) that one household member has had a reduction in income due to COVID-19. When you attest something, you swear that the information you give is true.
  3. On the application, you can attest that one household member has incurred significant costs due to COVID-19.
  4. On the application, you can attest that one household member is paying more than 30% of their income for rent. 

4. What is required to show risk of housing instability eligibility?

You can choose one of four ways to show you are at risk of unstable housing.

  1. A copy of a notice for past-due rent or utility bills sent to one or more members of the household.
  2. On the application, one or more members of the household can attest that they are currently homeless.
  3. On the application, one or more members of the household can attest that they pay more than 30% of their income for rent.
  4. On the application, one or more household members can attest to unsafe or unhealthy living conditions defined as:
  • lack of water / sewer or major plumbing issues 
  • chipping / peeling paint in residences older than 1978 
  • presence of serious mold
  • a red-tagged fuel tank confirmed by fuel supplier 
  • weatherization problems and solutions recommended by a professional
  • bedbugs need to be eradicated in your building
  • any other necessary repair approved by VSHA / AOA.

What rent benefits can be paid?

If you are eligible, VERAP can pay your rent for a total of 12 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. 
  • VERAP can pay prospective (future) rent for three months. If you need more than three months, you will apply again.
  • If you live in subsidized housing, VERAP can pay the tenant-owed portion of back rent accrued after April 1, 2020 as well as future rent.  
    • Before applying for VERAP, tell your housing program about changes in your income so they can update your portion of the rent. 
    • VERAP can pay back rent even if it is too late to get it adjusted for past changes in income.

You will decide:

  • how many months of future rent you want VERAP to pay.
  • how many months you want VERAP to pay toward back rent.

In your application, you need to report all the back rent (arrears) owed, even if VERAP will not pay it in full.

Who gets the payments – the tenant or landlord?

When you apply for VERAP, you will fill out a tenant application. VERAP will send a notice to your landlord to fill out a landlord application.

Normally, VERAP will make rent payments directly to your landlord. However, if the landlord refuses to submit a landlord application, VERAP will make three attempts to reach the landlord by phone, text, or email over 10 days. After that, VERAP will send you the money for you to pay your landlord.

What types of information do I need for the tenant application?

The tenant application will ask for:

  • Information about you, the applicant, and all members of your household.
    • Full names
    • Dates of birth
    • Social Security Numbers (last 4 digits)
    • Gender, race and ethnicity
    • Sources and amount of income for each adult in your household member
    • Source and amount of benefits income for any child in your household 
  • Your email, phone number and/or cell phone number 
  • Your street number, street name, street suffix (Street, Road, Rt #), Apt #, City, State, County, Zip code
  • Number of bedrooms in your rental unit
  • Total amount of back rent (“arrears”) for your household
  • Number of months of rent payment and number of months of utility payments you are applying for
  • Name of your landlord
  • Documentation as described above in the eligibility sections above.

What types of information does the landlord need for the landlord application?

The landlord application will ask for:

  • Full name
  • Address, city, state, zip
  • Tax ID number
  • Completed W-9 form
  • Email and phone number
  • Attestation (with eSignature at end of application):
    • The address of the rental, name of the tenants, amount of arrears, and amount of current monthly rent
    • That the rental unit complies with Vermont’s Life Safety Code requirements
    • That the landlord will not increase the rent for the number of months that they are getting VERAP funding
    • That they will make a reasonable effort to engage in weatherization activities and programs
    • That they agree to notify VERAP and return grant funds if the tenant moves from the unit before the end of the grant period.

How do I apply?

PLEASE NOTE: The VERAP application website and call center aren’t working well right now. We know they are working on it, and are hopeful the problems will be corrected in the next days or weeks. Learn more about the program and its requirements. We will update the information on this page.

Before you start, be sure to collect all the income information listed under “What is required to show financial eligibility?” and all the information listed in “What types of information do I need for the tenant application?” The application will be at this link https://erap.vsha.org/.

In various places, the online application will ask you to attest that the information is true and accurate. When you are done, you will sign your application online with an “eSignature” at the end of the application.

You can apply for rent-related help first and return later to your application to apply for other help.

What if I need help?

Help with the application

If you are trying to figure out whether you are eligible for rental assistance, your local Housing Retention Counselor (HRC) can help. They can:

  • help you assess your current housing situation and needs
  • provide eviction prevention services for tenants
  • help you understand the eviction process to better navigate a successful outcome, or
  • help you work with your landlord on a repayment plan or viable workout option.

Where you live will influence which Homeownership Center can help you. Follow this link to see which Homeownership Center covers your region.

Help if you are not approved

If you have trouble getting approved for the Vermont Emergency Rental Assistance Program, contact us after May 1st. At that time we will have staff to help you.

Immediate housing problem

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

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Source URL: https://www.vtlawhelp.org/money-for-past-due-rent

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