How to Get Help Paying Your Rent | United Way NCA

May 10, 2022

How to Get Help Paying Your Rent

Having adequate shelter is necessary for all. If you’re struggling to pay your rent and are concerned about eviction, help is available. Get help paying your rent using the methods below.

Tips for Help With Rent Near You

There are many strategies you can use to work around a lack of funds to avoid eviction. If you need help coming up with rent funds, try these methods.

Understand the Terms of Your Lease

First, it’s important to make sure you’re familiar with the terms of your lease. Most leases include information on your rights and options if you cannot pay your rent at any given time. Read your lease carefully to understand the lease terms and see what your options are.

Communicate With Your Landlord

It’s quite possible your landlord will give you some leniency if you explain your situation. If you know you won’t be able to make rent that’s due soon, communicate your situation to your landlord in writing as early as possible. Offer to make a late or partial payment on a specified date. If you’ve been a good tenant up until this point, it’s likely your landlord would rather keep you and work out a deal than get a new tenant. Just be sure that if you agree to paying on a certain date, you keep your word.

Seek Free Legal Advice

If your landlord is not someone you can amicably communicate with about your situation, you may want to seek legal advice. Many communities have free legal assistance that provides advice and sometimes mediation between you and your landlord.

Find a Roommate

If you have the space for a roommate and your lease allows for it, consider housing another person to help cover the rent. Dividing the expenses between you and someone you trust can greatly ease your financial distress. Draw up a written rental agreement and be clear about each renter’s responsibilities.

Utilize Social Services

You can save the funds to pay rent by cutting costs in other areas. Utilize help from social services that offer support such as food stamps to free up some expenses.

Get a Loan from Family or Friends

While securing a loan from family or friends helps you avoid a lengthy bank application and credit check, it could damage your relationship if you are unable to repay it. Be conscious of this before entering into an informal loan agreement.

Move in With Family or Friends

You may want to move in with a reliable friend or family member until you have better financial footing. This option can help you save enough money to become financially independent enough to rent again in the future.

Move to a Cheaper Apartment

If none of the above options work, you may need to move to a more affordable housing option.

Short-Term Rental Assistance

Did you know there are places that help with rent? Here are a few of the top places that provide short-term rental assistance.

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army offers special, one-time assistance to help community members pay rent. Based on donations, the Salvation Army provides many different services to help those struggling to get on their feet. You can learn more about their rental assistance program by either contacting their headquarters at 800-728-7825 or searching for your zip code’s Salvation Army location on their website.

Catholic Charities

Catholic Charities also has emergency assistance grants that can help you pay your rent. Learn more about their services online.

Modest Needs

Modest Needs offers self-sufficiency grants of up to $1,000 to cover one emergency expense. See how to apply.

Local Housing Authorities

The District of Columbia Housing Authority can provide resources for local, short-term rental assistance. Contact them at 202-535-1000.

Long-Term Rental Assistance

If your financial situation calls for a more long-term solution, consider these options.

​​Publicly Subsidized Housing

Local government agencies in the Washington, DC metro area and beyond own and manage affordable rental properties for those with low income. There are certain eligibility requirements to be considered, and you’ll likely need to add your name to a waitlist.

Privately Owned Subsidized Housing

There are also privately owned subsidized housing options. Some property owners have a contract with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to offer below-market-rate rental units. Contact HUD for properties near you.

Section 8 Housing

The Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) Program will pay most of the rent and utilities of a privately owned property. Section 8 makes payments directly to your landlord and you pay the difference.

Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

HUD also provides long-term assistance for homeowners and for renters. Learn more about their rental assistance programs.

USDA Rural Development Program

The USDA offers programs providing loans and grants to people in rural areas who need help with their mortgage or rent. See a list of their housing services.

State Assistance

States administer federal funds obtained through the HOME program to provide affordable housing to their residents.

Eviction Protection

Many areas provide protection and help enforce landlord standards when it comes to eviction. Find out if your state or local government offers eviction protection and what that protection might be by searching for your area.

You can also search your area to see what community resources are offered around eviction prevention and legal services regarding eviction.

Federal Rent Assistance and Relief

You may want to seek out federal options for rent assistance and relief.

Who Is Eligible for Rent Relief?

To check if you qualify for rental assistance, contact a HUD-approved housing counseling agency in your state. To be eligible for federal rent assistance, your household income cannot exceed more than 80% of the area’s median income. At least one member of your household must be at risk of homelessness or housing instability, and one or more household members must qualify for unemployment benefits or have experienced financial hardships.

Coronavirus Rental Assistance

In December 2020, the federal government signed into law a second stimulus package that included $25 billion in emergency rental assistance and more. The Department of Treasury has since worked with state and local governments to distribute the funds, which typically are paid directly to landlords and utility service providers. The relief money covers current and past-due expenses related to rent and utilities. Learn more about the federal emergency rental assistance program and find rental assistance in your area.

Local Rent Assistance and Relief

There are more local options for rental assistance in the Washington, DC area. See details below.

How to Get Rental Assistance Near Washington, DC

STAY DC is a financial assistance program for DC renters and housing providers who need support to cover housing and utilities expenses. These funds can help cover the cost of rent, gas, water, electricity and internet. To qualify, your total annual household income must be equal to or less than 80% of the area’s median income. Learn more about STAY DC, see if you qualify and apply for assistance on their website.

United Way of the National Capital Area also works to connect the local community with rental assistance resources. In addition to STAY DC, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development has a range of different resources to help those in need search for an apartment or public housing, get relief from the Housing Choice Voucher Program to pay for part of their rent and learn about fair housing, security deposits and the rights, laws and protections for tenants.

To get a referral for an appropriate rental assistance program or any essential health and human service resource, you can call 2-1-1 any day, any time. Nationally, 2-1-1 is to social services what 9-1-1 is to emergency services. When you call 2-1-1, you’ll receive free, confidential referrals and information regarding housing, food, shelters, utilities, rental assistance, health care, counseling and more. Simply dial 2-1-1, or learn more here.

For more information on emergency rental assistance for Maryland residents, click here. For DC residents, click here.

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