Marissa Miller, her husband, Anthony, and their two children had no idea how they were going to get by when the COVID-19 pandemic began. The clientele of their home cleaning business wanted to maintain social distancing and limit access to their homes. After relying on their savings for months, the Miller’s turned to the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).
The federal Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 created rent and utility assistance for Arizona renters and landlords to provide assistance to renters who have experienced or are facing a reduction in income because of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program launched in Arizona on February 23, 2021.
“Getting assistance has done more than I can imagine for our family,'' said Marissa. “We were terrified as to what our fate would be prior to this.” Marissa and Anthony’s landlord informed them of the program and how to begin the application process. Marissa said that the process was easy, and after submitting their application, their landlord was contacted to provide the necessary information.
With the self-service portal, eligible renters are able to upload the necessary documents (eviction notices, past-due rent notices, utility bills, proof of identity, lease agreement, among others) directly into the portal. After difficulty in obtaining their utility statements from the utility company, ERAP eligibility worker, Stephanie, reached out to Marissa. “Stephanie was a Godsend. She took so much time helping us and helping me understand how to get the proper documents uploaded,” said Marissa. With Stephanie’s help, Marissa and her family were able to receive rent and utility assistance. “She made this process painless and I am so grateful to her and this life-saving program!”
Marissa wasn’t sure how much assistance they were going to receive. “We thought we’d get a couple hundred dollars. When I saw the disbursement schedule and that they were going to pay the full amount, I started crying. We had burned through all of our savings and this was more than what we could have imagined.”
When asked what other people should know about ERAP, she said, “It was such an easy process to go through. I want other people to get that help, too. If I knew it was going to be like this, I would've done it a lot sooner.”
To learn more about the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), visit the DES website.