Delaware's federally funded emergency rental assistance program reopens next week
The Delaware Housing Assistance Program (DEHAP) helped more than 4,000 households affected by COVID last year, spending a total of about $14.5 million, according to the Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA). The state has much more money to give out in the upcoming round.
The program restarts Monday, March 22, with $200 million from the federal coronavirus relief bill passed in December. DEHAP has been closed, except to those going through the Delaware courts’ online dispute resolution system for eviction cases, since late December.
DSHA Director Anas Ben Addi says the housing authority delayed restarting DEHAP to perfect an online portal that lets either the tenant or landlord initiate an application.
“So if it’s initiated by the landlord, it will send a message to the tenant to enter their information, because there will be some cases where the tenant will not be comfortable submitting all the documents to the landlord to submit the application, and also visa versa,” Ben Addi said. “[It’s] really a good compromise, and it’s something we have heard from our community partners and advocates.”
Notifications will go out by text message.
“We were doing it by email, but we heard from folks who did not have access to email or were not frequent users of email boxes,” Ben Addi said.
Renters experiencing unemployment or other financial hardship due to the pandemic and able to demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability are eligible. They must have a household income at or below 80% of area median income.
The assistance can cover current or past-due rent as far back as last April, and can stretch for 12 months, with the possibility of a three-month extension.
Payments go directly to landlords.
“The good thing about this new assistance is that families who have received assistance in the previous version could still qualify to apply, however, we will only pay for months that were not subject to the previous assistance,” Ben Addi said.
The state will likely have even more rental assistance to distribute in the future.
The American Rescue Plan passed earlier this month includes $25 billion for emergency rental assistance nationwide.