Americans In This State Could Be in Line for $3 Million a Month in Stimulus Money

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  • Wyoming still has rental assistance funds to give out.
  • If the state doesn't issue those funds quickly, the federal government could try to take them back.

There's aid available -- but time may be running out.

Many people saw their financial situation take a major turn for the worse when the COVID-19 outbreak first erupted. Rampant job loss caused many people to fall behind on essential bills. And since many Americans didn't have money in savings to tap at the start of the crisis, they quickly fell behind on rent payments.

Thankfully, an eviction ban was put into place to prevent a large-scale wave of homelessness. But that ban has long expired, leaving many tenants with past-due rent at risk of eviction.

Since late 2020, there's been money allocated for rental assistance purposes. But some states haven't given all of that money out.

Wyoming is one of them. The state's Department of Family Services (DFS) is now dishing out about $3 million a month through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. But if the state doesn't move quickly, residents in need could lose out on those funds.

There's no time for delays

In 2020, lawmakers allocated $25 billion in rental assistance funds to help tenants catch up on their housing payments. More funds were then allocated in March 2021 when the American Rescue Plan was signed into law for a total of roughly $46 billion in rent relief.

Meanwhile, states were each given their own allocation of funds and were tasked with opening up rent relief programs and processing applications. Wyoming's first batch of funding was $180 million. But the guidelines for who qualified for aid under that program were fairly restrictive.

That's because renters had to prove they experienced a financial hardship direcltly resulting from the pandemic to qualify for aid. Since Wyoming was a state that opted not to shut down during the outbreak, that's been a difficult thing to prove.

Because the state struggled to give out money from the initial $180 million award, it had to return a lot of that money to the federal government. Now, Wyoming is using funds from a second $152 million award to support a new rental assistance program with looser qualifications. That means more residents of the state may now be eligible for aid. And as such, the DFS is able to disperse funds more quickly.

But Wyoming isn't out of the woods. The reason? The federal government could still claw back up to $90 million if the state doesn't give out that money soon.

A problem across the board

The federal government has already taken back rental assistance funds from a number of states that were too slow to give it out and reallocated that money to states that presented with a higher need for aid and a larger percentage of renters. These include California, New York, New Jersey, and Illinois.

Read more: Residents in These 4 States Could Be in Line for $377 Million in Stimulus Aid

But Wyoming claims it's capable of spending its rental assistance funds due to actual need. So now, the state will have to do its best to beat the clock to avoid having those funds snatched away.

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