MADISON COUNTY, Ala. – New data shows that Alabama leads the country in percentage of renters behind on paying rent. 22% of Alabama renters had housing debt at the end of March, compared to 14% for the nation’s average. That’s according to data from the National Equity Atlas.
In February, Alabama’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program got $263 million in federal funds.
Madison County was allocated $5.2 million and the city of Huntsville just over $6 million to help people behind on rent and utilities.
Alabama and the City of Huntsville’s ERA application process opened in March but Madison county’s still isn’t up and running.
In reviewing recent ERA data for the first 60 days, the City of Huntsville approved and distributed $660,987 to 180 households.
“There’s still about another 200 or so that are still under review so that means that they have completed their application and a case worker with one of our non profit agencies are reviewing it,” says Community Development Director Scott Erwin.
793 applications are currently in progress to be completed by the applicant’s.
“A large number started their application but then stopped… so what we are doing now is finding out why they stopped if they had this financial impact. Was the portal too complicated for them?” says Erwin.
The City of Huntsville’s Emergency Rental Assistance program started in March. $660 thousand used out of 6 million in CARES Act funding available meaning there is a lot of help left to go around for Huntsville residents impacted by the pandemic.
Meanwhile Madison County’s ERA program still isn’t up and running.
“The process moved through the commission it has been awarded to reframe solutions, they work under WSD Digital they have had meetings, the commission staff has met with their group,” says Commissioner Craig Hill.
Commissioner Craig Hill says Madison County’s program should be ready in early June on the County Commissions website.
“We’re not far behind so we feel like we are on the right side of it having our i’s dotted and our t’s crossed and then at the same time we are providing the same services as a lot of other entities,” says Hill.
Mobile County and Huntsville started their programs in March, Baldwin County, Montgomery County, and Birmingham started theirs in April.
The City of Huntsville is doing outreach at the Johnson Legacy Center this Saturday to help people through the application process for the Emergency Rental Assistance program. You can call 211 to set up an appointment for counseling