Health Care

RentReliefRI could provide up to $200m to Rhode Islanders facing eviction

“This program is helping our agency meet our commitment to maintain housing for low income residents who have been hurt by the pandemic while also allowing us to receive the rental income we need to continue providing quality housing management,” said Jacqueline Martinez, Associate Director of Property Management and Tenant Selection for the Providence Housing Authority.

Published on June 19, 2021
By Steve Ahlquist

The CDC eviction moratorium is set to expire on June 30. A new program, RentReliefRI, seeks to identify and get financial assistance to those at highest risk of eviction.

How do you apply to RentReliefRI?

Tenants and landlords can go to: RentReliefRI or call 1-855-608-8756 to start an application and request assistance in completing the application.

Applicants can also get in-person assistance with their paperwork in several different languages at sites around the state, including: Center for Southeast Asians; Crossroads RI; ONE Neighborhood Builders; and Tri-County Community Action Agency.

Who is eligible for RentReliefRI?

Tenant applicants must meet all of the following criteria to be considered for rent relief:

  • Household income must meet certain income limits. Limits vary by location and household size. Click here to view income limits in your community.
  • Must have qualified for unemployment benefits or have experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, OR experienced other financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to COVID-19.
  • Must show you are at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability. This may include submitting past-due rent and utility bills or eviction notices when you apply.

Thousands of Rhode Island residents are eligible to tap into $200m in rental relief funds. RentReliefRI is a new COVID-19 rental and utility assistance program that is designed to help tenants who faced financial setbacks due to COVID-19. On Friday, state leaders held a press conference at ONE Neighborhood Builders to help ensure that tenants and their landlords apply for the aid to pay for back rent or future rent.

United States Senator Jack Reed, Rhode Island Governor Daniel McKee, House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi (Democrat, District 23, Warwick) and State Senator Meghan Kallman (Democrat, District 15, Pawtucket), joined with housing advocates and community leaders on Friday to call attention to the program.

They encouraged Rhode Island renter households that may qualify for federal assistance to apply online or in person for a share of federal Emergency Rental Assistance funds.

RentReliefRI can also pay for rent and some utilities (electricity, water, trash, and heat) owed back to April 1, 2020. The program also covers up to three months of upcoming rent. Renters may apply for help with paying for utilities even if they do not need help paying for rent. Depending on eligibility factors, applicants may receive a total of 15 or 18 months of assistance.

As of this week, over 5,500 applications for rental assistance have been filed, according to RIHousing. Over $1.2 million already has been approved or paid toward rent and utilities for over 115 households, with another 2,554 in the process of being certified.

Tenants and landlords may apply for rent relief funding, and cooperation between the two makes the process easier and helps speed up payments because information from both the tenant and landlord is required to successfully complete an application.

RentReliefRI can make payments directly to landlords and utility providers on behalf of renters. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.

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Both landlords and tenants may initiate an application for the program. To help prevent misallocation of funds, the application requires tenants to submit information verifying their identity, income, residence and the cost of their rent and utility bills.

“June 30 will be here soon and we don’t know if the national eviction moratorium will be lifted. But we do know folks need help and there is money available to assist them. We’re trying to spread the word and connect people in need to the assistance they are eligible for. Avoiding preventable evictions helps individuals, families, neighborhoods, and communities. RentReliefRI has launched a platform where both renters and landlords who were financially strained by COVID-19 can go to get help with back rent or in some cases future rent payments, as well as help with utilities,” said Senator Reed, who helped include $25 billion for the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, as well as $21.55 billion in additional Emergency Rental Assistance funding in the American Rescue Plan Act.

“Everyone deserves a safe, stable place to live, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made that even more difficult for so many Rhode Islanders,” said Governor McKee. “RentReliefRI is a lifeline for tenants and landlords – it can help renters stay in their homes, while also helping landlords who have struggled to make their mortgage payments because their tenants could not pay rent. Right now, there are millions of dollars available to Rhode Island renters who are having trouble paying their rent or utilities as a result of the pandemic. We need an all-hands-on-deck effort to get the word out about these rent relief funds. Getting this money out the door will make a tangible difference in people’s lives. It will be the difference between families getting to stay in their homes, and families not knowing if they’ll have a place to sleep.”

“Many Rhode Islanders are still struggling from the effects of the pandemic, and COVID-19 disproportionately impacted those who were already on the brink,” said Speaker Shekarchi. “However, there are resources available… I strongly urge anyone who is eligible to take advantage of this program – we know that people have better outcomes across the board when they’re in safe, stable housing, and this funding will help people stay in their homes.”

The housing crisis “is one of my top priorities as a legislator as well as a deeply personal issue to me,” said Senator Kallman. “I know how desperately this funding is needed by struggling Rhode Islanders all over the state who have fallen behind on their rent or their utilities.”

“These rental and utility assistance funds are an important lifeline for renters and we are honored to be able to play a role in ensuring families can remain in their homes, avoid eviction and damage to their credit, and go to bed at night with one less stress to worry about,” said Christine Hunsinger, Chief Innovation & Strategy Officer at RIHousing.

“This program is helping our agency meet our commitment to maintain housing for low income residents who have been hurt by the pandemic while also allowing us to receive the rental income we need to continue providing quality housing management,” said Jacqueline Martinez, Associate Director of Property Management and Tenant Selection for the Providence Housing Authority.

Belinda Philippe, ONE Neighborhood Builders Director of Programs and Operations:

Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos:


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