Vermont COVID housing assistance funding on the way

Published: Jul. 10, 2020 at 7:55 AM EDT
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Vermont Governor Phil Scott and administration officials Friday said assistance is on the way for renters, landlords, and homeowners struggling during the COVID crisis.

Scott announced two programs to help tenants and landlords in Vermont facing difficulties. It's part of $85 million in federal coronavirus relief funds. Starting Monday, $25 million in rental assistance for both tenants and landlords through the Rental Housing Stabilization Program. The money can be used for a variety of reasons including past due rent, security deposits, and first/last months rent.

Unemployed Vermonters are currently receiving an extra $600 in benefits, but those will run out at the end of the month. The program is aimed at keeping people in their homes and off the streets. Tenants will have to demonstrate their need for help when they apply, but even then it's possible for tenants who are still employed and can pay their rent to take advantage of the program.

Stare officials say the vast majority of Vermonters are honest and paying the rent when they can. "As this continues, as this pandemic continues, I think people will be stressed out that the money that they've been receiving will run out soon and that they'll need help," said Richard Williams with the Vermont State Housing Authority.

Lance Garrett owns Garrett's Properties in Montpelier. He says he expects a few might try to defraud the program but that it's the needs of the many who need the money that's more important.

"You're not going to be able to weed them all out, you're not going to be able to nitpick who exactly needs them, but you're going to be able to generalize who will without costing too much of the state's resources of funding, the reviewing each person to see who needs it the most," he said.

The other program provides $5 million in mortgage assistance. It will pay up to three months of mortgage payments for households who faced economic hardship during the pandemic. There is an income requirement and they must have missed at least two months of payments since March. It's not for second-homeowners.

A Mortgage Assistance Program information hotline is open 9 am – 4 pm, Monday through Friday, at 1-800-889-2047.

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