Richland County is making it easier for non-English-speaking renters who lost income because of COVID-19 to register for financial assistance.
The County’s website, www.richlandcountysc.gov, includes a language support tool to help residents signing up for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). The feature is part of an effort to reach everyone who might need help applying for the program.
“Richland County is dedicated to ensuring the Emergency Rental Assistance Program is available to all residents,” said Mike King, assistant director for the County’s Emergency Services Department.
Residents who apply for ERAP online can click on the “Language Selection” icon on the upper right side of the webpage. There, they can choose to get instructions in English, French, Korean or Spanish. If a resident has already registered but wants to change their language preference, they can go to “My Profile” and do so.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 130,000 South Carolina residents report speaking a language other than English at home and speaking English “less than ‘very well.’”
Qualifying Renters Encouraged to Apply
The U.S. Treasury recently awarded Richland County $12.5 million to help qualifying renters who have been impacted by COVID-19. ERAP can provide 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. The County encourages eligible renters to apply, as well as owners and landlords on behalf of renters.
When applying, residents should submit all of the required information and fill out the necessary forms accurately. Incomplete applications slow the approval process. The 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.
Other Ways to Find Help
The County’s Department of Government and Community Services offers in-person assistance 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 is also offering 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 (Social Security information is requested, but not required or mandatory to apply):
- 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?
ERAP funding must be used to reduce past-due rental and utility balances before future rent payments can be made. Once past-due balances are settled, the County will consider future rent payments for up to three months at a time.
“For the past months so many have been juggling and trying to figure things out financially. The ERAP provides financial help those who desperately need it,” said Gretchen Barron, Richland County Councilwoman, District 7. “I believe that there are better days ahead and Richland County pledges to do our part to assist those who need rental and utility assistance.”
Find more information, including updated rules and frequently asked questions about ERAP, at www.richlandcountysc.gov/ERA.