Huntsville, Alabama Residents Could Have $4.7 Million in Stimulus Funds Coming Their Way

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KEY POINTS

  • Some Alabama residents may be in line for rent relief.
  • That aid could help prevent homelessness with the federal eviction ban being off the table.


It's a much-needed dose of aid.

When the COVID-19 outbreak first erupted, job loss became rampant. That led to a major unemployment crisis and widespread income loss. Not surprisingly, many people -- especially those without money in savings -- fell behind on their bills immediately, and that included their rent payments.

Normally, tenants who don't pay rent can be evicted on the basis of non-payment. But to prevent a mass homelessness crisis, a federal eviction ban was put into place that barred landlords from removing tenants on the basis of not paying rent alone.

That ban expired last summer, though, and since then, many people's housing situations have been precarious. Thankfully, the last two stimulus bills allocated $45 billion in rental assistance funds to help struggling tenants catch up on overdue rent and related payments, like utilities. While much of that money has been given out already, there's still more available in some parts of the country.

In fact, just recently, the Huntsville City Council approved another round of funding for its emergency rental assistance program. And that could spare a lot of people from losing their homes.

A $4.7 million sigh of relief

More residents in Huntsville, Alabama could be in line for rent relief thanks to a recently approved $4.7 million allocation toward helping tenants catch up on housing payments. Last year, the Huntsville City Council approved $6 million in rent relief funds, but that money has since run out.

Though the U.S. economy is in much better shape now than it was earlier on in the pandemic, a lot of people are still in the process of recovering from the financial blow they were dealt. And the recent omicron outbreak may have caused its share of setbacks.

During the latter part of 2021 and early 2022, COVID-19 cases soared on a national level, forcing many people to take time away from work due to illness or quarantine requirements. But not everyone is entitled to paid time off, so many people may have seen their finances take a further hit in recent weeks. Now, residents of Huntsville may have less to worry about as more rental assistance funds become available.

Who's eligible for aid?

Huntsville Community Development Manager Scott Erwin says that while all eligible applicants are encouraged to seek out relief, that $4.7 million in funds will be prioritized for those immediately facing eviction. He also said that those who have a household income of 50% below the poverty line and those with individual household members who qualify for unemployment should generally be eligible to receive a chunk of that funding.

One thing worth noting is, households that have already received rental assistance funds will not be eligible for additional aid. Applicants will also be required to show proof of income to verify they're eligible for assistance.

It's also worth noting that landlords are allowed to apply for rental assistance on behalf of struggling tenants. And many may be motivated to do so because ultimately, it's landlords who get that rent relief money. Those who are ready to apply for aid can do so here.

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