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$12.5 million in rental assistance funds now available for Richland County residents

The county began accepting applications – by phone and online – on Monday, April 5, for Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Richland County has begun accepting applications – by phone and online – for its Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) to help eligible residents pay rent and utility bills. In addition, residents can soon begin scheduling in-person appointments to get help submitting their application.

The county began accepting applications Monday, April 5. 

The U.S. Treasury awarded Richland County $12.5 million to help qualifying renters who have been impacted by COVID-19. 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. The County encourages eligible renters to apply, as well as owners/landlords on behalf of renters.

Residents are encouraged to apply online for faster processing of their applications, as documentation must be submitted and can be uploaded through the online portal. For residents without internet access or who need help completing the application, the phone line, as well as in-person assistance, will be available.

Beginning now, residents can:

  • Access the ERAP application online directly or through the County's website at www.richlandcountysc.gov; or
  • Call the program's toll-free number: 855-216-9198.
  • The phone line will be open 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturdays.

Applications also can be submitted in person:

  • The County's Department of Government and Community Services will offer in-person assistance on a limited basis and by appointment only. Residents are urged to review the ERAP information and must bring all required documentation to their appointment. Beginning Thursday, April 1, residents can schedule appointments for April 5 or later by calling 803-576-1513. When leaving a message, please provide your name and phone number for a return call.
  • Richland Library is 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 803-386-8606 or emailing socialworker@richlandlibrary.com.

Residents who lack in-home internet service and prefer to apply online on their own can take advantage of services offered by Richland Library.

The library's HomeSpot lending program allows residents to borrow a Wi-Fi hot spot for internet access at home. For details, call 803-569-3563 or email Hotspot@richlandlibrary.com. Free outdoor Wi-Fi is available at all 13 Richland Library locations.

RELATED: More rental assistance on the way for South Carolinians

Additionally, eight Richland Library locations are open for free indoor computer use:

  • Main, 1431 Assembly St., Columbia
  • Ballentine, 1200 Dutch Fork Road, Irmo
  • North Main, 5306 N. Main St., Columbia
  • Sandhills, 763 Fashion Drive, Columbia
  • Southeast, 7421 Garners Ferry Road, Columbia
  • St. Andrews, 2916 Broad River Road, Columbia
  • Eastover, 608 Main St., Eastover
  • Northeast, 7490 Parklane Road, Columbia

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 funds 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.

Find more information, including updated rules and frequently asked questions on ERAP, at www.richlandcountysc.gov/ERA.

RELATED: Lexington County to offer rent, mortgage, utility assistance due to COVID-19

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