A Place To Call Home: Emergency Rental Assistance Program Put on Pause, What This Means For The Homeless Crisis

Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 7:54 PM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - As of this afternoon, The Emergency Rental Assistance Program has been paused. This could have a big impact on people relying on this program for shelter. Newssource 8′s Corey Bouchard has reaction to this decision.

Heidi Rackliffe - Director of Programs , ACAP " So we were just informed at 3:00 in an email we received word from Maine Housing that at this point at 5:00pm today we are no longer accepting any application for the ERA program, the Emergency Rental Assistance Program”

The Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which started as a Pandemic-related program to prevent homelessness has been paused, pending a funding decision from the US department of treasury. In addition to the pandemic assistance, it has also been used as a last resort to house people experiencing homelessness when the homeless shelter is full. Until today, the program allowed people to use this financial assistance for up to 12 months, but they had to recertify every 3 months to stay in the program. With the pause in the program, anyone needing to recertify, had to do so by 5 PM Thursday. Currently there are 88 Households utilizing the ERA staying in county hotels. While the program is now no longer accepting new applications or recertifications, doesn’t mean those 88 households will be out on the street Thursday night.

Heidi " the only thing I can guarantee today is what I was told, literally the individuals using hotels for housing are guaranteed housing until the end of october”

This pause may not be the end of the program, as the Department of Treasury is set to notify Maine Housing if they intend to continue to fund the ERA Program by the end of next week. If the funding is discontinued, it will run out completely by October 31st, which Rackliffe says could make the homeless crisis the County is already experiencing even worse.

Heidi " We just know now more than ever that the time is ticking and it just got really real really fast, I wish i could give you a definite answer, unfortunately I dont have one, our agency doesnt have one, i dont think the community has one yet”

Anyone with questions about this program or their coverage can reach out to ACAP. Corey Bouchard, NS8