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Local News

New program to help pay the rent

For rent sign
Flickr

Low-income Escambia Countians — including Pensacola residents — who are facing pandemic-related difficulties paying the rent can get assistance from a new local program.

“It is for renters who need assistance with overdue rent and utility bills,” said Clara Long, who oversees the Escambia County Emergency Rental Assistance Program — ERAP for short. “Due to some type of COVID impact that caused them to get behind on their rental bills as well.”

E-RAP began operation last week, armed with more than $17 million from two sources — the Consolidated Appropriations Act and the American Rescue Plan.

“They have to have had a financial impact about COVID; their household income has to be at or below the 80% [poverty line],” Long said. “Be at a risk for homelessness or housing instability and they have not received any kind of rental assistance.”

Both the tenant and their landlord have to apply, and both must provide some basic information.

“A valid ID; their lease agreement, proof of household income; they have to show proof of COVID hardship, and if they apply for utility assistance they have to provide past-due bills,” Long said. “As far as the landlord, they have to provide information guarding the tenant [and] showing late fees.”

Landlords also have to prove — through a W-9 tax form — that they are a rental company in the state of Florida. The application portal is open and available in English and Spanish. Call 850-403-6044 to make an appointment for in-person assistance or go online at myescambia.com/erap.

“There is a [sic] icon that says Emergency Rental Assistance Program,” said Long. “They click on that icon, and then it will take them through the whole process of applying. If they don’t have a computer, they can always go to the public library.”

Public libraries in Escambia County are:

  • Southwest Branch Library - 12248 Gulf Beach Highway, Pensacola
  • Pensacola Library - 239 N. Spring St., Pensacola
  • Westside Branch Library - 1301 W. Gregory St., Pensacola
  • Tryon Branch Library - 1200 Langley Ave., Pensacola
  • Genealogy Branch Library - 5740 N. Ninth Ave., Pensacola
  • Molino Branch Library - 6450-A Hwy. 95A, Molino
  • Century Branch Library - 7991 N. Century Blvd., Century

But, ERAP Director Clara Long concedes that there are people who have neither the ability nor the desire to use a computer — she says they’re covered too.

“Call (850) 403-6044 to make an appointment with one of our all center case managers,” she said. “They will set up a day and time and will meet them in person, and help them fill out their application.”

At this point, there is no deadline for applying, and Long slays they’ll continue to accept them until the funding runs out.