The Georgia Department of Community Affairs will begin administering the State of Georgia Rental Assistance Program (GRA) in early March 2021. GRA can help renters with their past due rent and utilities. Payment will be made directly to landlords and utility providers. Below are some of the federal guidelines for the program.
Who is eligible?
GRA can serve renter households that have combined incomes less than 80% of Area Median Income (AMI) who meet the following conditions:
- Qualified for unemployment benefits or has experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship due directly or indirectly to COVID-19; and
- Demonstrates a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability; AND
- Has a household income at or below 80 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI), with priority given to: 1) households below 50 percent of the AMI, or 2) households with one or more individuals who have been unemployed 90 days or longer at the time of application
Households with incomes that fall below 50% AMI will be prioritized. Households are also prioritized where one or more household members are unemployed and have been unemployed for 90 days.
What documents will a tenant need to show eligibility?
Renters will need the following general types of documents/items (e.g., copies, pictures, screenshots, etc.) along with their signed, fully completed application. The application and portal will specify the actual documents required.
- Identification (State ID or a passport)
- Income documents for every adult (age 18 and older) in the household and unearned income attributable to a minor
- Past due rent notice or past due utility bills
- Copy of the lease
- Proof of unemployment qualification OR documents showing a reduction in income, significant costs, or financial hardship due directly or indirectly to the coronavirus
- If applying for utility assistance in addition to rent, copies of your most recent utility bills showing the amount owed, the utility provider and account number
What documents will the landlord need to provide?
- Completed GRA Landlord Application
- Proof of ownership and Authorization/Agreement to act on behalf of owner if management company
- Copy of the lease
- Ledger showing tenant’s payment history in 2020 and 2021
- W-9 and bank information for ACH payment
Who is not eligible?
- Renter households that have incomes above 80% of Area Median Income.
- Renter households that cannot show a ‘COVID-19 hardship’ or risk of homelessness or housing instability through an eviction notice or a past due rent statement.
- Renter households that receive a monthly federal subsidy (e.g. Housing Choice Voucher, Public Housing, Project Based Section 8) where the tenant rent is adjusted according to changes in income may not receive GRA assistance.
How much rent can you pay?
Payments, including arrearages and future payments, generally may not exceed 12 months, however some households may be eligible for a total of 15 months of payments under certain circumstances.
I have fallen behind on my rent, what can I do now until the program starts?
Talk to your landlord and let them know about this program. Also, start looking at the documentation requirements and begin collecting them so that you will have them ready once the application process starts. All documents showing evidence of income, including any public benefits, should be gathered. The CDC Eviction Moratorium has been extended until March 31, 2021, meaning that no one should be evicted solely for non-payment of rent until that date. Visit GeorgiaLegalAid.org for more information.
Which Jurisdictions in Georgia does GRA cover?
During the initial rollout of this program, GRA anticipates covering all jurisdictions with the exception of Atlanta City, Augusta-Richmond County Consolidated Government, Chatham County, Cherokee County, Clayton County, Cobb County, DeKalb County, Forsyth County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, Hall County, and Henry County. DCA anticipates providing rental assistance in these areas at a later date.
If you are in one of these jurisdictions, you may wish to contact your local government for more information. When DCA is able to provide rental assistance to these jurisdictions, more information will be provided at that time.
Please visit https://georgiarentalassistance.ga.gov or call 833-827-RENT for more information about the program.