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Rental assistance available for more Mississippians

Over $186 million in rental and utility assistance is available for Mississippians affected by COVID-19 from the Rental Assistance for Mississippians Program.

Mississippi received $200 million from the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program. The Governor directed $186 million to be administered by the Mississippi Home Corporation.

State residents can get up to 15 months of rental and utility assistance to make their payments current. Applications are already available online at ms-ramp.com. People are eligible for assistance beginning from the time they were first impacted by a job loss or significant cost incurred due to COVID as far back as March 2020, said Director Scott Spivey in a press conference Monday.

Assistance is not available for telephone, cable or internet bills, but is available for utilities like water, electricity, sewer or trash collection.

The payments are made directly to landlords or eligible service providers. Residents who are at or below 50 percent of the median income for an area will be prioritized, said Spivey. The landlord or tenant can start an application for assistance online at ms-ramp.com. An application cannot be completed without the tenant, although landlords can start an application on behalf of tenants they believe are eligible.

Eligibility

To be eligible at least one person in the household must qualify for unemployment or have experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs or experienced financial hardship due to COVID-19; demonstrate a risk of housing instability or homelessness; and have a household income below 80 percent of the area median.

To be eligible for the ERA program, the person must make 80 percent or less of the area’s median income. According to the RAMP website, in Pearl River County, ERA maximum income eligibility requirements are as follows: one person household, $33,800; 2 person, $38,600; three person $43,450; four person, $48,250; five person $52,150; six person $56,000; seven person, $59,850; and eight person, $63,700.

There is also an existing separate rental assistance program, the RAMP Emergency Solutions Grant, specifically for people experiencing homelessness or in need of immediate shelter, which has some funding from the CARES Act.

According to the RAMP website, for the RAMP ESG program a person is eligible if they make below 50 percent of the median income for an area. In Pearl River County maximum income eligibility requirements are as follows: one person household, $21,150; two person, $24,150; three person, $27,150; four person, $30, 150; five person, $32,600; six person, $35,000; seven person, $37,400; and eight person household, $39,800.

Hinds and Harrison Counties applied for their own funds, so Harrison County already has its own county program and Hinds is working on putting together its own program, said Spivey.

“We understand that both landlords and tenants have been tried during this time and we want to help them as much as we can with this money,” said Spivey.

For more information on the program, visit ms-ramp.com or call 601-533-8401 or 1-888-725-0063. People without internet access are encouraged to call for assistance with their application.