Maine Community Action Associations to Administer Statewide Rent Relief Program for People Affected by COVID-19
Thu, Apr 16th, 2020
by DCP Staff
Ellsworth, Maine – Governor Mills and MaineHousing have entrusted the ten Maine Community Action Agencies (CAAs) to process and deliver a COVID-19 Rent Relief Program, which will allow renters to apply for a one-time $500 payment to their landlords in order to avoid eviction for the month of that payment, at this point April or May. Downeast Community Partners (DCP) is the CAA serving Washington and Hancock counties.
With only a little over a week notice to prepare for a new, $5 million dollar program, the CAA leadership was able to commit to running the program without being paid the usual and customary administrative fees. “We appreciate the Governor’s initiative in proposing this program and want to do everything we can to make sure it gets out as quickly as possible to those that need help with their rent” said Mark Green, Executive Director of DCP.
The Governor announced the program on Wednesday, April 15 and the applications are being processed beginning Thursday, April 16, according to Maine Community Action Association Executive Director Megan Hannan.
“The Governor knows that with unemployment or reduced income comes significant financial hardships, including paying the rent,” continued Hannan. “As we see Mainers to Staying Healthy at Home to flatten the curve of the Coronavirus, we are here to help ensure they have a home in which to stay.”
MaineHousing is funding the program using $5 million from the Housing Opportunities for Maine (HOME) Fund, after the Governor asked them for a plan to protect Mainers. The Community Action Agencies, who partner with MaineHousing on a number of programs, were asked if they had the ability to turn around the funds to pay landlords very quickly, and they responded by making staffing flexible during this time when many other programs are already working differently, but continue.
The program provides up to $500 for 10,000 Maine individuals and families who have lost wages due to the coronavirus pandemic, and who need help to pay either April or May rent. It does not act as full payment if rent is higher, but is a bridge to other programs until they begin; however, landlords who accept the funds agree not to evict the tenants for that month. Households are eligible if they earn up to 100% of the state median income* and are not already in another subsidized program, which have other alternatives for rental payments.
The program is structured to get money to people who need it as quickly as possible through a streamlined application process. Applicants apply online at mainehousing.org/covidrent or they can call Downeast Community Partners at (207)610-5927 if they don’t have access to the internet or have questions about the program. DCP staff are also available to connect people to other programs for which they are eligible or newly eligible, including heating programs, which were recently adjusted to respond to this crisis, and a host of other programs administered by DCP.
Since the order to stay home and to close schools, DCP has continued many programs in person and virtually. Head Start and Early Head Start families continue to receive two or three nutritious meals daily; heating assistance applications are being processed and fuel is being delivered; transportation programs continue for both medical and non-medical needs. In many cases, front line DCP staff are busier than ever assuring people in their communities have the support they need.
Maine Community Action Association is a statewide organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of Maine citizens by advocating for, promoting and supporting the work of the Maine community action agencies.
About Community Action: Community Action changes people’s lives, embodies the spirit of hope, improves communities, and makes America a better place to live. We care about the entire community, and we are dedicated to helping people help themselves and each other. DCP’s mission is to improve the quality of life and reduce the impact of poverty in Downeast communities.
For more information about DCP, please give us a call at (207)664-2424.
*State Median Income per Month Guidelines
1 Person $3,696
2 Person $4,833
3 Person $5,971
4 Person $7,108
5 Person $8,245
6 Person $9,382
7 Person $9,596
8 Person $9,809