Presque Isle, Maine –Aroostook County Action Program (ACAP) will locally administer a temporary COVID-19 rent relief program announced today by Governor Janet Mills. The partnership between the Governor’s Office, MaineHousing and the state’s ten Community Action Agencies will allow renters to apply for a one-time $500 payment to their landlords in order to avoid eviction for the month of that payment, at this point April or May.
With only a week notice to prepare for a new, $5 million dollar program, the leadership of Maine’s Community Action Agencies was able to commit to running the program without being paid the usual and customary administrative fees. “We want the money to go to people in Aroostook County who need it most, as quickly as possible” said Jason Parent, Executive Director/CEO ACAP and current President of Maine Community Action Association. “ACAP is here for this exact reason – when the community needs us, we act. Not only will we be able to assist people with their rent through this program, but we will take the opportunity to assess what other programs may be able to assist those who reach out to us and share that information with the individuals we serve,” he continued.
“The Governor knows that with unemployment or reduced income comes significant financial hardships, including paying the rent,” said Parent. “As we see Mainers stay healthy at home to flatten the curve of the Coronavirus, we are here to help ensure they have a home in which to stay.”
MaineHousing is funding the program using $5 million from the Housing Opportunities for Maine (HOME) Fund, after the Governor asked them for a plan to protect Mainers. The Community Action Agencies, who partner with MaineHousing on a number of programs, were asked if they had the ability to turn around the funds to pay landlords very quickly, and they responded by making staffing flexible during this time when many other programs are already working differently, but continue.
The program provides up to $500 for 10,000 Maine individuals and families who have lost wages due to the coronavirus pandemic, and who need help to pay either April or May rent. It does not act as full payment if rent is higher, but is a bridge to other programs until they begin; however, landlords who accept the funds agree not to evict the tenants for that month. Households are eligible if they earn up to 100% of the state median income* and are not already in another subsidized program, which have other alternatives for rental payments.
The program is structured to serve our community as quickly as possible through a streamlined application process. Applicants apply online at mainehousing.org/covidrent or by calling ACAP at 768-3023 . Our team is available to connect people to other programs for which they are eligible or newly eligible, including heating programs which were recently adjusted to respond to this crisis, WIC, coaching services among a few of the programs offered by ACAP.
About Aroostook County Action Program: ACAP provides the people of Aroostook County with services and resources that help individuals and families achieve greater economic independence. As a leader, or in partnership with others, ACAP provides guidance to the community in responding to emerging human needs in the areas of community health, early care and education, energy and housing, and workforce development services.
About Community Action: Community Action changes people’s lives, embodies the spirit of hope, improves communities, and makes America a better place to live. We care about the entire community, and we are dedicated to helping people help themselves and each other.
*State Median Income Guidelines