Where to Find Housing and Utility Assistance During COVID-19
As the COVID-19 pandemic carries on, many older Americans are finding their budgets stretched to the limit. The high cost of housing and utilities can be especially burdensome. Here are several places to find help if you’re struggling to pay your rent, mortgage, or home energy costs.
If you’re a renter facing hardship, you might want to start by writing a letter to your landlord or property manager requesting a repayment agreement. No Rent can help you draft a letter and exercise your rights to avoid eviction.
You’ll also want to look into these resources:
- Affordable housing: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers a locator tool to find help with affordable housing, public housing vouchers, and resources for those facing homelessness.
- Legal assistance: Want to know what rules and rental protections apply to your area? Search for local legal information on residential renters’ issues during the pandemic at Legal Help FAQs.
- Rental protections: Learn more about protections for renters from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020 offers relief for homeowners who have mortgages backed or funded by a federal agency, Freddie Mac, or Fannie Mae.
If you’ve been financially hurt by COVID-19, you have a right to request forbearance—that’s either a suspension or reduction in payment—for 180 days, with an opportunity to extend for an additional 180 days. Your mortgage lender also cannot initiate eviction until after December 31, 2020. Learn more from the CFPB.
If you don’t have a federally backed mortgage, you may still have options:
- Talk to your loan servicer to negotiate a forbearance
- Find and talk to a low/no-cost HUD-approved housing counselor
HUD’s Federal Housing Administration has published a flyer, Save Your Home, with tips for homeowners on how to prevent foreclosure.
Help with Heating and Cooling Costs
If you’re struggling with the costs of heating your home this season, you may want to see if you qualify for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The CARES Act provided nearly $1 billion in additional funding for this benefit, which assists with heating and cooling bills.
Apply through your state or local LIHEAP office or by calling the National Energy Assistance Referral Hotline at 1-866-674-6327.
Many states offer state or local fuel funds to help offset the costs of heating your home. Check with your state’s energy office to see what might be available in your area.
Finally, you can see if you qualify for housing, utility assistance, and a wide range of money-saving programs using our free, confidential screening tool BenefitsCheckUp. The site also contains information on programs that can boost your budget in other areas, such as food assistance and health care savings.