MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — It’s been about one year since the federal eviction moratorium ended. Now, with rising rent and inflation, those at Legal Service Alabama in Montgomery say they’ve seen an uptick in those seeking help.
Attorney Nicholas McKinney provides legal counsel for those facing eviction.
“We pretty much prevent help people from losing their homes,” McKinney said.
McKinney has helped more than 1,200 people in need in the last year alone. He says inflation has left many struggling to pay rent. That’s where their partnership with the Emergency Rental Assistance Program comes in.
“We would not be able to help as many people as we do because of that emergency rental assistance program, so it has literally been a godsend,” McKinney said.
Since March 2021, Alabama has received about $221 million for the federal program, meant to help those facing a hardship because of the pandemic.
“We’re proud to say that we’ve assisted over 33,000 renter households,” Alabama Housing Finance Authority Multi-family Administrator said.
Young says they’ve distributed about $133 million so far, just about 60% of the funds.
Those who qualify have a household income 80% or below the area median income for their county, and can find the other criteria on eraalabama.com.
“It’s not just for people who are past due on their rent. It’s for people who have struggled, that have lost wages. They can apply, they can receive up to three months of rental assistance and apply up to 18 months,” Young said.
Young says they saw a spike in applications when the program rolled out, but right now it’s steady — distributing about $10 million a month.
Once that federal money is gone though, those with the Low Income Housing Coalition of Alabama say they’d like to see state investments in the Alabama Housing Trust Fund.
“The Housing Trust Fund is really a mechanism that allows for that community control to continue to engage stakeholders at the deepest levels knowing that communities know best what they need,” LIHCA Program Manager Elena Hampton-Stover said.
Those with Legal Services Alabama encourage anyone who’s behind on rent or concerned about an eviction to call them for more information on their options.