COVID-19 Rental Assistance Available through REAL Services

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REAL Services is dedicated to helping elderly and low-income people become and stay independent for life. If you or someone you love needs help during the COVID-19 pandemic, call REAL Services at 574-233-8205.

By: REAL Services + Home Comfort Experts

This year has been a challenge for all of us.

According to CareerBuilder, 78 percent of working people in the United States were living paycheck-to-paycheck before the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of the pandemic, 20.5 million people in the U.S. abruptly lost their jobs, according to the U.S. Labor Department. Suddenly, many Americans found themselves facing eviction.

In response, Congress passed the CARES Act in March to provide much needed financial assistance to struggling Americans and enact eviction protections.

Enter REAL Services.

“We didn’t have a rental program prior to COVID-19,” says LaTonia Newhouse, Director of Community Services for REAL Services. “State agencies, as well as local agencies for cities, reached out to us and asked if we would be willing to pick up the program because of the great need.”

Rental assistance funding is available in Indiana at both the state level and local level through the Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority, Community Development Block Grants from the cities of Mishawaka and South Bend, and the Community Service Block Grant. REAL Services works with families in its coverage areas of St. Joseph, Elkhart, Kosciusko, Marshall, and Fulton counties to connect those in need with the right funds based on their particular need.

Funds available to assist families are all COVID-related, so families must show that they’ve experienced some sort of COVID-related loss of income such as a reduction in working hours or having been adversely affected by COVID-19.

“If a family has a need, they can either apply through the state or they can apply through us [REAL Services],” LaTonia says. “Then we would need to look at their need and determine which program would be the best fit for them.”

Funding is available to help families for multiple months, but only one funding source may be used by a family each month. The local programs allow REAL Services to aid people with up to three months of assistance, while the state program allows for up to six months, which is determined by a person’s need.

The rental assistance money is paid directly to landlords, but families must fill out the necessary paperwork to get the process started. LaTonia says that it’s important for families to promptly follow-up with REAL Services when initial and additional documents are required. Without all the right paperwork, the process may be slowed down and there can be lag time for when payments can be sent to landlords.

Congress has failed to pass any follow-up legislation to the CARES Act in March, and there’s a genuine worry that families will begin to face eviction as federal funding runs out at the end of the year. But LaTonia says it’s important for families to continue to look for assistance through REAL Services, as help will be available for the foreseeable future at the local level for those affected by COVID.

In addition, “[People should] continue to check other resources that are available in our community because we have other places that have local funds that are sometimes less restrictive,” she says. “For those that have already been assisted by the state, if they check back with the agency that originally helped them, there’s a possibility that we can look at assisting them with a couple more months.”

Since the program began in July, REAL Services has assisted 295 participants across five counties in Indiana for a total of $693,000 in rental assistance, according to LaTonia.

REAL Services can help families find out if they qualify for state or local rental assistance. To apply and learn more about how they can help you with rental assistance, email rentalassist@realservices.com or call 574-233-8205.

Do you or someone you love need help accessing food, prescriptions or other services during the COVID-19 pandemic? Call REAL Sevices at 574-233-8205 for help.  

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