Gov. Mills and MaineHousing have entrusted the 10 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.
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 want the money to go to people who need it most, as quickly as possible” said Donna Kelley, CEO of Waldo Community Action Partners. “We are here for this exact reason – when the community needs us, we act,” she continued.
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 Waldo Community Action Partners, Brian Friel at 207-930-7361 if they don’t have access to the internet or have questions about the program.
Since the order to stay home and to close schools, Waldo CAP has continued many programs in person and virtually. Head Start and Early Head Start families continue to receive 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 our staff are busier than ever assuring people in their communities have the support they need.
Waldo Community Action Partners is a charitable, educational, 501(c)(3) private non-profit organization located in Belfast, Maine. It is designed to utilize and mobilize public and private resources to assist low-income Waldo County residents in the alleviation of poverty and address its underlying causes.
*State Median Income per Month Guidelines
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