New Ga. program offering up to 15 months of rental assistance to families impacted by pandemic

ATLANTA — Georgians who have fallen behind on their rental payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic may qualify for help through a new statewide program.

The Georgia Rental Assistance Program, which kicked off this month, can provide up to 15 months of rental and utility assistance, which is paid directly to landlords and service providers on behalf of tenants.

The funds were made available through a $522 million grant from the U.S. Treasury’s Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program. The funds will be used to bring past due rent and utility payments current.

[SPECIAL SECTION: COVID-19 Vaccine in Georgia]

“Applicants must first qualify for unemployment benefits or have experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs or experienced a financial hardship linked directly or indirectly to the COVID-19 pandemic,” officials said. “There must also be a clear and present threat of homelessness or housing instability because of an inability to pay for rent and utilities.”

Renters who qualify must also have a household income that is below 80% of the area median income. Priority will be given to families whose household income is below 50% of the area median income and households where one or more individuals have been unemployed for 90 days at the time of the application.

[LINK: Where to find the COVID-19 vaccine in Georgia]

To apply, renters will have to show a state identification, income documents for everyone in the household over age 18, notices of past due rent or utility bills, a copy of the lease and proof of unemployment or a reduction of income, significant cost or hardship due to the pandemic.

The program will pay up to 12 months, although some households could get up to 15 months of assistance.

People who already receive a monthly federal subsidy do not qualify.

The GRA is different than rental assistance programs set up by individual counties and cities.

[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]