Help for struggling renters
Mississippi is now accepting applications to help struggling renters following passage of the massive COVID-19 stimulus bill signed by then-President Donald Trump, which included $25 billion for rental assistance.
Mississippi Home Corporation is taking applications from needy renters, as well as landlords who file on behalf of tenants, at ms-ramp.com. The Home Corporation program, called the Rental Assistance for Mississippians Program (RAMP), received $186 million of the $200 million U.S. Department of Treasury allocated to Mississippi through the Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
The assistance is meant to help renters who were financially impacted by COVID-19.
The Mississippi Home Corporation first began administering RAMP in July using $18 million the state received through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Emergency Solutions Grant. The agency, however, stopped offering rental assistance through the program in January on federal guidance because an eviction moratorium had begun September 4, according to MHC Director Scott Spivey. The federal government suggested renters were no longer at a great enough risk of homelessness to qualify for the grant, he explained.
That initial program came with strict eligibility guidelines that caused several thousand renters to be denied, but new treasury money is more flexible. For one, the new program raises the income limit for eligibility from 50% to 80% of the area’s median income.
Individuals can now apply to the program for help paying up to 15 months of back due rent, which should help to reduce debts and the number of evictions to come once the moratorium is lifted.
Applicants can also secure help to pay for the following utilities and energy costs: electricity, gas, water and sewer, trash removal and fuel oil. The program will not pay for telephone, cable or internet bills.
Renters will be eligible for the assistance if at least one person in the household meets three requirements: they qualify for unemployment or faced financial hardship as a result of COVID-19, are at risk of homelessness or unstable housing and pull no more than 80 percent of the area median household income.
The Home Corporation directs applicants to call 601-533-8401or 1-888-725-0063 to speak to a representative.