Birmingham renters who’ve fallen behind in their rent and/or utility bills because of COVID-19 will soon be able to apply for relief, thanks to the City of Birmingham’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
Information on the program may be found at birminghamal.gov/renthelp. The program is made possible with more than $6.2 million in federal funding. The website contains details and a detailed FAQ. An online portal to apply and a call center to help applicants will go live on Monday, April 26 at 10 a.m. Mayor Randall L. Woodfin is encouraging Birmingham residents and landlords in need of help to start reviewing the website now and becoming familiar with what’s required early.
“Because this program is funded with federal dollars, several requirements must be met during the application and review process. Several documents are required to be submitted,’’ Mayor Woodfin said. “People cannot apply until April 26, so I urge everyone in need to start gathering the necessary paperwork for the online application now to avoid any downtime.”
Renters will need to submit several documents, including copies of a current driver’s license, a copy of their lease, a letter from their landlord to show they are behind on their rent, paperwork from their place of employment to show they have been laid off or experienced a reduction in salary, etc. Landlords, who may also apply for assistance, will need to submit a W-9.
Renters must live within the city limits of Birmingham and must meet a certain income level, among other requirements. Again, for more information, visit birminghamal.gov/renthelp, which is where the online portal for applications will be housed. People who’ve fallen behind on rent can go as far back as March 13, 2020, but they must show proof that the pandemic affected their ability to pay their rent or utilities. Past due utility bills such as water, gas and electricity are eligible. Phones, internet and cable are NOT covered.
Those without access to the web may call the program’s call center, where a case manager will be available to assist with the application process. The number to the call center will go live on April 26 at 10 a.m. That number will also be posted to birminghamal.gov/renthelp.
This program is not for those who have fallen behind on their mortgage. Homeowners who may need help with their mortgage payments or utility bills should visit: fhfa.gov/Homeownersbuyer/MortgageAssistance
Mayor Woodfin will join others in hosting a tele-town hall meeting, where people may ask questions about the program. The tele-town hall will be on Thursday, April 22 at 6 p.m. To listen in, call 1-415-655-0002 and enter access code: 187 732 5838. The tele-town hall will also be streamed live on the city’s Facebook page at facebook.com/cobmayorsoffice. People may submit questions during the live stream on the City’s Facebook page or send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Emergency Rental Assistance bill was passed as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which provides $25 billion nationally for pandemic-response rental assistance. The program is administered through the U.S. Department of the Treasury. As part of this relief package, the City of Birmingham has received approximately $6.2 million to assist landlords and tenants through the Birmingham Emergency Rental Assistance. For a review of other federal funds to assist in the pandemic recovery in Birmingham, please visit birminghamalgov/recovery.