San Nicolas: Guam to get $75 million in COVID rent relief assistance

Congressman Michael San Nicolas on Zoom. (PNC file photo)

The $900 billion COVID relief bill that the House just passed provides $25 billion in emergency rental relief and a one-month extension of the nationwide eviction moratorium, through January 31, 2021.

According to Guam Congressman Michael San Nicolas, $75 million has been allotted to Guam for rental relief assistance.

“This rental relief may be used for rent, utility payments, unpaid rent or utility bills accumulated through the pandemic and other housing expenses incurred due to the pandemic,” San Nicolas said in a news conference Tuesday morning.

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According to the Guam delegate, eligible households may receive 12 months of assistance and renters could apply for assistance with entities that state and local grantees select to administer the program.

“So it’s likely going to be our local housing authorities. Once a renter qualifies for assistance, the administering entity would send the payment direct to the landlord, so it’s not going to be going to the tenant, and it’s going to be going directly to the landlord for the amounts claimed,” San Nicolas said.

If a landlord declines to receive the assistance from the administering entity, a renter may instead receive a payment directly from the administering entity to make rental payments to landlords themselves.

In addition, landlords can also directly apply for rental assistance under the program, but will be required to notify the tenant that assistance is being provided on their behalf and obtain the tenant’s consent.

According to San Nicolas, eligible households are defined as renter households who have one household income not more than 80% of the area median income to have one or more household members who can demonstrate the risk of experiencing homelessness, or housing instability and three of one or more household members who qualify for unemployment benefits or experienced financial hardships due to directly or indirectly to the pandemic.

Assistance will be prioritized for renter households that do not exceed 50% of the average median income as well as renter households who are currently unemployed and have been unemployed for 90 days.

“So if you’re receiving unemployment, if you’re behind on your rent, and definitely if you’re behind on your rent for more than 90 days and the overall household income is below 50% of the area median income, you’re going to be definitely prioritized or receive this rental assistance,” San Nicolas assured.