October 7, 2021 — Press release from the Wyoming Department of Family Services
Are you struggling to pay your rent or utilities? You are not alone, and it is not your fault. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Wyoming renters need a little extra help right now. Sweetwater Family Resource Center is ready to help eligible households get the assistance they deserve through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).
The federally funded program officially launched on April 29 in Wyoming with $180 million available to eligible renters struggling to make rent, internet, and utility payments, as well as housing stability services. The Wyoming Department of Family Services (DFS), with assistance from the Department of Workforce Services (DWS), is administering ERAP and has dedicated $1M of the federal funds to contract with community-based organizations to provide local in-person application assistance. Learn more and apply at dfs.wyo.gov/erap.
For local in-person assistance, please contact Sweetwater Family Resource Center, located at 649 N. Front St., Unit A in Rock Springs. Please call to make an appointment at 307-362-6549.
“We are happy to help the tenants and landlords in our community,” stated Shari West, executive director at Sweetwater Family Resource Center. “Due to the high volume of ERAP clients, please call our office to make an appointment.”
As of Sept. 30, ERAP has approved a total of 1,843 applications, or 49% of submitted applications, paying a total of $6.4M in assistance. Of the rental payments, $5M went to landlords, $986K to renters, and $438K to utilities. To see county-specific information, click here to see the map.
Another 3,730 renter applications have been submitted and are under review. Once submitted, applications go through the eligibility and benefit determination process, which can take up to 30 days.
ERAP eligibility requirements include:
- *Being a renter in Wyoming or having unpaid rent on a previous Wyoming residence
- *Having a household income of less than 80% of the area’s median income. Sweetwater County renters meet the income eligibility requirement if they have an annual income of $49,700 for a one-person household, $56,800 for a two-person household, $63,900 for a three-person household and $70,950 for four-person household.
- *Qualifying for unemployment benefits or being able to show direct or indirect financial loss because of COVID-19 or being able to show that financial loss occurred during the COVID pandemic
- *Being at risk of losing housing
Eligible households can obtain assistance for unpaid past due rent and utility services incurred after March 13, 2020 – even at a previous residence. Eligible expenses also include unpaid current and future rent (up to three months at a time) for up to 18 months total of rent and/or utilities. Eligible utility costs include electricity; energy costs (fuel, oil, propane); water and sewer; and internet service (up to $50 per month). Other eligible expenses, done on a case by case basis, may include reasonable relocation expenses, security deposits, and reasonable late fees.
Additionally, ERAP has provided $1M to Equal Justice Wyoming for legal services to eligible households facing eviction and/or other housing instability. If facing eviction, please contact Legal Aid of Wyoming, which is a sub-recipient of Equal Justice Wyoming. They may be able to provide other legal assistance to eligible ERAP renters living in Wyoming. Visit www.lawyoming.org or call 1-877-432-9955 for Legal Aid.
The Wyoming Department of Family Services, with assistance from the Department of Workforce Services, is administering the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), a U.S. Treasury initiative passed through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 and expanded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Wyoming received $200 million in federal funding to help eligible Wyoming renters struggling to make rent and/or utility payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under federal guidelines, $180 million is available for direct financial assistance for rent, utility, and internet payments, and housing stability services, while $20 million is available for the application system, call center, and administrative costs. Learn more at dfs.wyo.gov/erap.