Opinion: Unfold the phrase – Maine has cash to assist with lease and utilities

The state of Maine has already helped more than 9,000 families stay in their homes and keep the lights on by putting $ 46 million in federal rent aid into the hands of Mainers who need it.

We allocated housing aid faster than any other state except five, according to the US Treasury Department.

But Maine still has more than $ 150 million in federal dollars in a bank account (more to come with the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act), and it’s just got easier for families who depend on that money.

Under the new MaineHousing entitlement standard introduced this week, assistance with paying rent and utilities is now available to anyone who has faced financial difficulties during the pandemic, not just those who can prove their plight is right through that caused COVID-19. The qualified can now take advantage of more help over a longer period of time.

Families with household incomes up to 80% of the local median are eligible – up to $ 71,950 per year for a family of three in Cumberland County.

People can apply to MaineHousing.org.

These changes and this support are particularly important right now, as the The federal moratorium on eviction ends. Last week, the Biden government temporarily extended the moratorium, but only in counties with high COVID-19 case rates, a measure that fluctuates daily.

Maine has seen one before Increase in evictions how the state courts have reopened in recent months.

With the money there and the red tape cut, the biggest problem now is making sure Mainers know that help is available. If you or someone you know has had trouble paying rent or utility bills, visit MaineHousing.org To ask for help. Even if you were previously rejected, even if you thought you earned too much or did not meet the requirements, you can now be eligible.

The purpose of this funding is to minimize disruptions in people’s lives, especially children, and also to act as a stimulus – an economic boost for individual families and the economy as a whole in an uncertain time.

Let’s get the word out and make sure these resources are used where they can do the most good.

Photo: tom.arthur, Creative Commons via flickr