Richland County’s management of its Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) is being touted as a national model of “promising practices” for other jurisdictions to follow.
ERAP, launched in April, aids renters who have been impacted by COVID-19 and need help paying rent and utility bills. The County has awarded more than $8.5 million through ERAP and continues to assist residents in need.
The U.S. Treasury Department has recognized the program’s outreach and collaborative efforts, highlighting partnerships with Richland Library and local utility companies.
“It is certainly gratifying to have the Richland County team formally recognized for our ERAP by the U.S. Treasury,” said Mike King, assistant director of Richland County Emergency Services. “We are committed to continuously identifying and implementing practices that will improve the efficiency of the program and our service delivery capabilities.”
Treasury cited the County’s collaboration with Richland Library as “culturally and linguistically competent outreach,” commending efforts by ERAP administrators and social workers to broaden outreach and increase program accessibility at the library’s 13 branches.
The County was also recognized for collaborating with all 17 local utilities to allow grace periods for ERAP applicants who need more time to pay their bills. When a resident applies for ERAP funding, the County notifies the utility, and disconnection of services is paused while the resident’s ERAP payment is processed.
“I appreciate the collaborative spirit and effort of our local partners in helping us to meet the needs of Richland County residents,” said County Administrator Leonardo Brown.
Treasury detailed those collaborative efforts on its website.
Applying for ERAP
In April, Richland County was awarded $12.5 million to help qualifying renters through ERAP. The program provides up to 12 months of rental and utility assistance, plus an additional three months if funds are available and the County determines the extra months are needed to ensure housing stability. Eligible renters, as well as owners and landlords on behalf of renters, are encouraged to apply. Funds do not have to be repaid.
Visit www.richlandcountysc.gov/ERA to find updated rules and frequently asked questions about ERAP, including income requirements and qualifications for renters.
When applying, residents should submit all of the required information and fill out the necessary forms accurately, as incomplete applications slow the approval process. Richland County will notify applicants if an application is incomplete; tenants have 21 days to respond and landlords have 10 days to respond.
To apply for ERAP, residents can:
- Apply online
- Call the program’s toll-free number: 855-216-9198
- Submit an application in person.
A language support tool is available in the application portal for non-English speaking residents.
The County’s Department of Government and Community Services offers in-person assistance for ERAP on a limited basis and by appointment only. Residents should review the ERAP information and must bring all required documentation to their appointment. Schedule an appointment by calling 803-576-1513. When leaving a message, please provide your name and phone number for a return call.
Richland Library also offers assistance to residents who need help completing the application. Applicants can schedule an appointment with a member of the library’s social work team by calling 803-509-8371, texting 803-386-8506 or emailing email@example.com.
Whether applying online, by phone or in person, all applicants should be prepared to provide the following information with documentation:
- Name and contact information
- Address – household applicants must reside in a rental property within Richland County
- Status – renter or landlord?
- Copy of an applicable lease agreement or self-attestation in the absence of a lease agreement
- Household income – must be below 80 percent of Area Median Income (AMI)
- Rental/utility payment status
- In arrears or prospective?
- Impact of COVID-19
- Is there economic hardship? How?
- Is there a risk of homelessness or housing instability? How?
Find more information at www.richlandcountysc.gov/ERA.