Housing Help

If you’re lucky (or unlucky) enough to receive unemployment benefits form the State of Utah hopefully you know that you can apply for rental assistance through the Utah Department of Workforce Services/Homeless Prevention Plan. It’s hard to keep track of what help is available out there given 45 signing documents that may not hold up in court and a Congress who can’t seem to figure out much of anything. We do know that the $600 unemployment checks ran out and people are in danger of not being able to pay rent. The Emergency Assistance program through the State can help folks who don’t have enough money to prevent becoming homeless or having utilities shut off by giving money for rent/mortgage and or/utilities.  There are EIGHT conditions that must be met to get help:The family must have lost their home or be about to lose their home or their utilities because they have past-due payments that resulted from an event (a crisis) that happened beyond the control of the family.The family must be able to keep their housing or utilities or find new housing with a single rent, deposit, mortgage, or utility payment.The family must show how it will make past due payments and pay future months’ rent, mortgage, or utility payments after the crisis has been solved.The family must have already tried all other means of getting the money to pay or tried to set up a repayment plan.The value of all the household assets and things the family owns cannot be more than $2000.00. These include assets and possessions that are immediately available to the family members.The household’s total income per month cannot be more than 185% of the Standard Needs Budget (SNB), based on the household’s size. Click here to review the income limits.The payment is available once in a 12 month period.The household must have at least one dependent child who is under 18 living in their home.   You can apply at a Workforce Service location in the State or talk to nonprofit dealing with housing issues like the YWCA, Shelter the Homeless, Community Development Corp., etc.  Better yet, use the 211 hot line for Essential Community Services. It’s a free phone number like 911 but will help you find services and is especially good if you are elderly, disabled, don’t speak English as a primary language, are new to the area. The information and referral service was set up a few years ago and is priceless and works in EVERY state in the U.S. to help you find resources for housing assistance and emergency housing as well as a myriad of other services.  Help is just a phone call away and cross your fingers that more will come from Congress soon!

Rent Relief Again

Strange times. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, speaking for the Trump administration would bar evictions for most renters in the country until the end of the year. The press release said the new rule update to the current moratorium was necessary to stop the spread of the Corona virus and to avoid having renters wind up in shelters or other crowded living conditions, compounding the crisis.This moratorium has a wider reach than the previous emergency eviction rules that expired in July and isn’t automatic. To get the benefit of the new moratorium a renter would have to tell their landlord that they basically have no other options, no place to go except to live on the street. Tenants will have to fill out a form on the C.D.C. website that states they have a substantial loss of income for their household and can’t pay rent or can only pay partial rent.  The form will be available shortly (if not already at the time of this being published) on the C.D.C. website. Why is this necessary? Simply because Congress has not been able to come up with a new CARES Act or extension/update to the previous one that has expired. This may influence voters, don’t you think? IF tenants don’t get relief from rent will they vote for Trump or Biden? Understand that any relief is NOT forgiveness. You do NOT get out of paying your debt to your landlord. Nay, you only defer the payment until later. Here’s an example:Under the previous CARES Act there was a 120 day rent deferral option (from the end of March until the end of July). To make easy math here, use a rent of $1000 per month. You’d be three months ($3000) in arrears now had you opted for the deferral with your landlord. Now, you can…IF you would be homeless…opt for another deferral for four months=$4000. At the end of this year you would owe your landlord $7000 that you would have to pay back. How do you pay rent back? You’d hopefully arrange some payment program with the owner of the property or their property manager to repay the $7000. Seriously, will you be able to repay this? I’m thinking of so many folks around the country who have lost jobs and lost the $600 unemployment payments are getting more and more financially behind. Come springtime methinks bankruptcies and bad credit will run rampant and the ‘have nots’ will have even less.On the flip side of the coin, landlords don’t get relief due to the deadlock in Congress. If they have a mortgage, they must ask their lender for a payment deferral because their tenants aren’t paying them, and they can’t make their monthly loan payment.  I have many past clients who are landlords because they have inherited a property, bought one to add to personal wealth, purchased one for their college kid(s) rather than pay dorm costs or are just buying rentals because that’s their primary source of income. Also, if a property owner has asked their lender for a deferment then they can’t qualify for a refinance loan to get a better rate.