State rental assistance program resumes on Monday

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TheDelaware Housing Assistance Program has been relaunched.

Landlords and tenants can apply for assistance beginning Monday, March 22, using the Delaware State Housing Authority’s application portal.

The program provides financial assistance to renters experiencing unemployment or other financial hardship due to the Covid-19 crisis.

Out of $25 billion dedicated nationally through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, the State of Delaware was awarded $200 million in emergency rent relief funds.

The program now allows for up to a yer of financial assistance, with the possibility of extended assistance for an additional three months. The rental program can cover late rent dating from April 2020 and forward and the current rent due period Payments will be made directly to landlords and property managers.

“I am thankful to our federal partners who were able to secure this significant funding for our state to help address the needs of tenants and landlords at this time,” said Gov. John Carney.“We know many Delawareans continue to face a very challenging time as they struggle with the economic effects of the COVID-19 crisis. By reopening the rental assistance program with this funding, we hope to help more Delaware families stay in their homes both during and after the pandemic.”

DEHAP was first launched by DSHA in March of 2020, making DSHA the first housing finance agency in the country to launch a rental assistance program to assist tenants who were struggling to pay their rent as the pandemic hit. When first launched, DSHA received an overwhelming response to the program. The program was paused to reassess funding availability. The program reopened in August 2020 and accepted applications through December.

In total, the housing authority has approved nearly $15 million in rental assistance funding for 4,188 households since the rental program was first launched.

Friday’s announcement event was held at The Flats, a Low-Income Housing Tax Credit site in Wilmington owned by Woodlawn Trustees. Several of the tenants living at The Flats received rental assistance under previous versions of the program.

Speaking at Friday’s event, Andre Frantone, a resident of The Flats, said he was laid off from his job as an executive chef at a local hotel due to the pandemic. In October, Frantone received about $4,000 in rental assistance from DEHAP. “This program was a lifeline for my family and me, and I am grateful for the assistance it provided us,” he said. “Without the help from DEHAP, I’m not sure what would have happened to my family. I encourage anyone in Delaware who is struggling to pay their rent to look into the program and see if it can help them.”

To qualify for DEHAP, households must be at or below 80 percent of the Area Median Income for the county in which they reside as well as meet several other criteria.

Under federal guidelines, DSHA will prioritize applications for households at or below 50 percent of the area median income level and households where one or more members are currently unemployed and have been for at least 90 days. Income eligibility per county and other program requirements can be found on DSHA’s new DEHAP website at www.decovidhousinghelp.com or by calling 866-935-0407.

The website provides tutorial videos and Frequently Asked Questions for landlords and tenants who plan to initiate applications. Both landlords and tenants can initiate an application but will need to work together to ensure proper documentation is provided by both parties.

Tenants who received DEHAP assistance previously may receive rental assistance again for rent arrears or rent not already paid by DEHAP, but they will need to reapply for the program since eligibility requirements and program documentation have changed.

The application portal will go live on Monday, March 22, 2021. Tenants and landlords are encouraged to review the eligibility information and required documentation in advance at www.decovidhousinghelp.com so they are prepared to submit their applications when the portal opens.

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