Some Renters Running into Roadblocks Getting Rental Assistance Money

1 Fort Lauderdale

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Many people struggling to pay their rent are turning to rental assistance programs for help, but some are running into roadblocks getting the funding.

Billions in federal rental assistance has been made available for Floridians behind on their rent.  

NBC 6 Responds has heard from renters who are facing issues getting the money.

Phillip Daigneault says his application with Broward County’s rental assistance program was recently denied.

The denial letter stated “The landlord cannot be a resident of the rental unit.”

“They claim that my landlord lives on the premises that I am renting, but he doesn’t,” Daigneault said.

He says despite qualifying for rental assistance with Broward County last year, this year his application was flagged.

He says his landlord does not live with him, but uses the address as a homestead address. He says despite emails and calls to program administrators he has not been able to clarify the discrepancy.  

“I’ve sent an email each week since being denied so the last three weeks. And I actually called last week and they told me to give it another four weeks,” Daigneault said.

Marvin Scholz says his rental assistance application with the City of Miami has stalled.

“Rent is over $1500 a month, it is a lot of money,” Scholz said. “They told me that could not move on without the landlord.”

He says his landlord refuses to participate with the rental assistance program.

“We are talking with a lot of people whose landlords don’t want to participate,” Annie Lord, the Executive Director of the non-profit Miami Homes for All, said.

She said she has heard from people looking for help with these types of issues.

“We are still seeing a need for legal services. It really makes a difference when someone who is maybe dealing with a landlord who would prefer not to participate and not take the rental assistance, it is very helpful when there is an attorney involved,” Lord said.

Local governments have been awarded two rounds of Federal Rental Assistance money.

The first round of funding, known as ERA 1, does not require landlords to participate in the rental assistance program and requires multiple attempts to obtain the cooperation of the landlord.

The second round, ERA 2, does not require the cooperation of the landlord before providing assistance directly to the tenant.

Many local programs are still administering the first round of funding.

“There are still certain pockets of the county where I think some more efforts need to be made in order to reach people and help them troubleshoot as they go through the application process ,” Lord said.

NBC 6 Responds reached out to both Broward County and the City of Miami regarding these particular issues.

In Scholz’ case, he has heard back from a program administrator who has asked him to provide additional paperwork. Daigneault is still waiting to hear back.

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