NewsThe NorthSider

New federal program offers city residents help with rent, utilities

ST. LOUIS – City residents who have fallen behind on paying their rent and utilities during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic may be able to get help from a new pool of funds. 

A new program called “STL City ERA 1” has $7.5 million in federal Emergency Rental Assistance funding available. 

Mayor Tishaura Jones issued a statement in which she cited inequities that many area families face and that were both revealed and exacerbated by the pandemic.

“This program ensures those families can keep a roof over their head and their utilities on, and limits the devastating effects of eviction, housing insecurity, unemployment, and illness and other hardships they are suffering,” Jones said.  

These U.S. Treasury funds are the first round of rental assistance under the President Joe Biden. More help is expected within the next few months, under “STL City ERA 2.”  The city hopes to get aid to eligible residents as quickly as possible, to stabilize households facing eviction. City officials are also working with the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court to help residents who are currently in court facing eviction.  

Renters can apply now for financial assistance that will be paid directly to the landlord and/or utility provider. The money can cover documented past-due rent or utility payments, but only after March 2020, when the pandemic struck this area; and payments can’t exceed 12 months of help. These funds are for only rent; they can’t be used for mortgage assistance.  

To apply, residents must:

  • Currently live in a residential city property
  • Have a household income at or below 80% of the area median income
  • Have a demonstrated risk of housing instability or homelessness without assistance
  • Have one or more people in the household currently experiencing a reduction in income

ERA 1 funding is separate from rental assistance provided by the State of Missouri’s State Assistance for Housing Relief (SAFHR) program for tenants and landlords. City residents who have recently applied for assistance through the SAFHR program are not eligible for assistance from both SAFHR and STL City ERA 1.

Tenants who have not applied to the MO SAFHR program and still need rental or utility assistance can apply online via the Department of Human Services page on the city’s website. Those who are unable to apply online and need help with their applications can call the United Way by dialing 2-1-1 or 800-427-4626.  Those who need an application mailed to them can contact the Dept. of Human Services at 314-657-1650.

Staff is home to The NorthSider and The SouthSider weekly community newspapers. The SouthSider publishes 25,000 copies every Tuesday. The NorthSider publishes 25,000 copies every Thursday. They are distributed at over 600 locations across St. Louis.

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