CASPER, Wyo. — People needing assistance paying rent, utility and internet bills due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Wyoming may be eligible for assistance under the Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
Wyoming began accepting applications for the program on April 29. People can apply online.
The program is being administered by the Wyoming Department of Family Services with help from the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services.
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“Wyoming received $200 million in federal funding for the program, a U.S. Treasury initiative passed through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 and expanded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021,” the Wyoming DFS says. “Under the new federal guidelines, $180 million is available for direct financial assistance for rent, utility, and internet payments and housing stability services, while $20 million is available for application assistance and administrative costs. The new guidelines have extended the program through December 31, 2021.”
The program has four eligibility criteria:
- One or more individuals within the household is obligated to pay rent on a home in Wyoming or has unpaid rent on a previous residence that is located in Wyoming. If living on the Wind River Reservation, renters may be eligible for assistance through the Eastern Shoshone ERAP or Northern Arapaho ERAP.
- Total household income is equal to or less than eighty percent (80%) of the area median income.
- One or more individuals within the household has qualified for unemployment benefits or experienced financial loss due, directly or indirectly, to COVID-19.
- One or more individuals within the household can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing stability
“Eligible households can obtain assistance for unpaid current and future rent, internet and utility payments,” the Wyoming DFS says. “Eligible utility costs include electricity, energy costs (fuel, oil, propane), water and sewer, and internet service (up to $50 per month). Other eligible expenses, done on a case by case basis, may include reasonable relocation expenses, security deposits and reasonable late fees.”
“Unpaid bills must be for services on or after March 13, 2020 and can be on a former residence in Wyoming. There is no monetary limit, and eligible applications can receive assistance for up to 15 months.”
Renters can apply and landlords are able to apply with written permission from their renter.
“ERAP directly pays landlords and utility companies for unpaid bills on behalf of eligible renters in Wyoming,” the Wyoming DFS says. “The payments will be made by the State of Wyoming, so landlords must be an enrolled vendor with the Wyoming State Auditor’s Office at sao.wyo.gov/vendors. The fastest way to receive payment is through direct deposit.”
There are also community based organizations in most counties able to offer assistance in applying for the program:
“For ERAP support, call center hours are 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Monday through Friday,” the Wyoming DFS says. “The toll-free phone number is 1-877-WYO-ERAP.”