Orange County Stimulus Checks For Renters: Commissioners Approve ERA2

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Rising food and gas prices have made life difficult for many, especially for renters facing increased rent. To help home renters, lawmakers in Orange County have approved a second Emergency Rental Assistance Program. These Orange County stimulus checks for renters could give eligible residents up to $20,000 or 18 months of assistance. The program will launch October 1.

Orange County Stimulus Checks For Renters: Who Will Get Them?

On Tuesday, Orange County commissioners unanimously voted in favor of a second emergency rental assistance (ERA) program, called ERA2. The program will be funded by the American Rescue Plan Act, which was approved by President Joe Biden last year.

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Specifically, the County commissioners have voted to extend the current Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which was scheduled to close on September 30. More funds will be made available through ERA2, which is scheduled to begin October 1.

Although Orange County allocated more than $39 million in federal funds for ERA2, it only got about $16 million. The county doesn’t expect to get the remaining amount because it reportedly failed to meet the spending deadlines set by the U.S. Treasury Department.

As per the Treasury guidance, the remaining federal funds can be reallocated to other, better-performing programs, possibly in the same state.

To qualify for the rental assistance payment, applicants must be at least a month behind on rent. Also, they will be required to provide documents to show that they meet the income guidelines.

Documents that applicants can use as proof of income are: 2021 federal tax returns; income eligibility proof for other federal or state assistance programs, such as food stamps; a paycheck stub or employer wage statement; or proof showing the applicant lived in an area located in a low-income census tract.

To be eligible for Orange County stimulus checks for renters, income for single filers must not be more than $46,480; for a two-person household, the combined income should not be more than $53,120; while for a three-person household, the income limit is $59,760.

How ERA2 Is Different From ERA1?

The federal rules for the second emergency rental assistance program are slightly different from the first one in several ways. In general, ERA2 expands the eligibility requirements for renters.

Under ERA1, renters had to prove that they suffered hardships, directly or indirectly, due to the coronavirus pandemic. In ERA2, renters only need to prove that they suffered financial hardship during the coronavirus pandemic. This means people whose rent has been increased will also get Orange County stimulus checks for renters, and not just those who are struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also, the ERA2 guidelines require payment to be made directly to renters if the landlords refuse to participate in the program. This wasn’t the case in ERA1, which allowed (but didn’t require) the payment directly to tenants.

Additionally, the county has expanded the eligibility requirements to cover renters who faced more than a 10% increase in rent. People facing foreclosure and those with low income will get priority.

ERA2 is a much needed program for Orange County. About 9,800 evictions, or about 40 a day, have been filed in Orange County since the start of the year.