Richland County’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) has approved more than $1.5 million in assistance requests since launching April 5.
Even after reaching this milestone, however, the County still has funding available for renters who have been impacted by COVID-19 and need help paying rent and utility bills.
“We are well on our way to providing assistance to those who have been financially impacted by COVID-19. I encourage anyone who may think they qualify to apply,” said Councilwoman Gretchen Barron, who chairs the Council’s Coronavirus Ad Hoc Committee. “Our staff have developed a seamless process and we are committed to getting these funds in the hands of those who really need it.”
The U.S. Treasury awarded the County $12.5 million to help qualifying renters. ERAP can provide up to 12 months of rental and utility assistance, plus an additional three months if funds are available and the County determines the extra months are needed to ensure housing stability. The County encourages eligible renters to apply, as well as owners and landlords on behalf of renters.
“It is certainly gratifying to be part of the Richland County team that has worked diligently in the past five weeks to provide financial help to our residents,” said Mike King, assistant director of Emergency Services for Richland County.
“The assistance being provided is making a critical difference for our residents who are facing pandemic-related financial difficulties, eviction and utility shutoffs.”
How to learn more and apply
Visit www.richlandcountysc.gov/ERA to find updated rules and frequently asked questions about ERAP, including income requirements and qualifications for renters.
When applying, residents should submit all of the required information and fill out the necessary forms accurately, as incomplete applications slow the approval process. Richland County will notify applicants if an application is incomplete; tenants have 21 days to respond, and landlords have 10 days to respond.
A language support tool for non-English-speaking residents is available in the application portal.
To apply for ERAP, residents can:
- Apply online
- Call the program’s toll-free number: 855-216-9198
- Submit an application in person.
The County’s Department of Government and Community Services offers in-person assistance on a limited basis and by appointment only. Residents should review the ERAP information and must bring all required documentation to their appointment. Schedule an appointment by calling 803-576-1513. When leaving a message, please provide your name and phone number for a return call.
Richland Library is also offering assistance to residents who need help completing the application. Applicants can schedule an appointment with a member of the library’s Social Work team by calling 803-509-8371, texting 803-386-8506 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whether applying online, by phone or in person, all applicants should be prepared to provide the following information with documentation (Social Security information is requested, but not required or mandatory to apply):
- Name and contact information
- Address – household applicants must reside in a rental property within Richland County
- Status – renter or landlord?
- Copy of an applicable lease agreement or self-attestation in the absence of a lease agreement
- Household income – must be below 80 percent of Area Median Income (AMI)
- Rental/utility payment status
- In arrears or prospective?
- Impact of COVID-19
- Is there economic hardship? How?
- Is there a risk of homelessness or housing instability? How?
ERAP funding must be used to reduce past-due rental and utility balances before future rent payments can be made. Once past-due balances are settled, the County will consider future rent payments for up to three months at a time.
Find more information at www.richlandcountysc.gov/ERA.