This page will be updated as more information becomes available
UPDATE: Gov. Tony Evers has announced the launch of the Wisconsin Help for Homeowners program, which is set to provide more than $92 million in financial assistance to Wisconsin homeowners who have experienced financial hardship as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Eligible homeowners can receive assistance with mortgage payments, local property taxes, and utilities, including internet, as well as housing counseling and legal services. The Wisconsin Help for Homeowners program and the federal Homeowner Assistance Fund are funded through the Baldwin-supported American Rescue Plan Act. Click here to apply
Need updated information for renters and landlords? The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a new Rental Assistance Finder, providing state and local program information for renters and landlords seeking assistance.
Need Fair Housing Act information? Landlords and renters can visit hud.gov/fairhousing for details on guidance.
Note the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are working together to help homeowners and renters during the coronavirus pandemic.
Congress has passed several rounds of financial assistance and relief in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including most recently the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which was signed into law on March 11, 2021.
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 contains billions in funding to help ensure that families and individuals have a roof over their heads, including:
See below for more information from the U.S. Department of Treasury, the agency overseeing implementation of the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program.
What is the ERA program?
The Emergency Rental Assistance program makes funding available to assist households that are unable to pay rent or utilities. Two separate programs have been established: ERA1 provides up to $25 billion under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which was enacted on December 27, 2020, and ERA2 provides up to $21.55 billion under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which was enacted on March 11, 2021. The funds are provided directly to states, U.S. territories, local governments, and (in the case of ERA1) Indian tribes. Grantees use the funds to provide assistance to eligible households through existing or newly created rental assistance programs.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) Rental Assistance Finder provides state and local program information for renters and landlords seeking assistance (Updated 08.03.21)
Which renters are eligible for Emergency Rental Assistance and how can they access help?
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provides $21.6 billion to states, local governments with populations over 200,000, and territories to provide emergency rental, utility, and other housing-related assistance and housing stability services to renters.
To be eligible for assistance, renters must:
These funds augment $25 billion in funding provided for Emergency Rental Assistance in the December 2020 Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY 2021, but provide grantees with some additional flexibility to better stabilize renters. Many states, local governments, and territories have already opened or are about to open emergency rental assistance programs with funds provided in December. Many tribes are also operating Emergency Rental Assistance programs through funding provided in December or Housing Assistance and Supportive Services for Native Americans funding included in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
What is the application process?
Treasury disburses ERA funds to states and other governmental entities, not directly to households or landlords. Please contact your state or other eligible governmental entity for information on how to apply to receive assistance under a program funded by the ERA.
ERA2 payments are made directly to states and local governments with more than 200,000 residents. ERA2 sets aside $2.5 billion for eligible grantees with a high need for ERA2 assistance, based on the number of very low-income renter households paying more than 50 percent of income on rent or living in substandard or overcrowded conditions, rental market costs, and change in employment since February 2020.
At least 90 percent of awarded funds must be used for direct financial assistance, including rent, rental arrears, utilities and home energy costs, utilities and home energy costs arrears, and other expenses related to housing. Remaining funds are available for housing stability services, including case management and other services intended to keep households stably housed. ERA2 funds generally expire on September 30, 2025. For ease of reference, the assistance listing number (CDFA number) assigned to the ERA program is 21.023.
Note the ERA1 application process has been completed.
On May 7, 2021, Treasury announced the following allocations for ERA2 funds for Wisconsin:
ERA2 Funds Eligible local governments Allocation High-Need Allocation Brown County $ 6,257,190.20 Dane County $ 6,788,742.20 $5,800,264.30 Madison city $ 6,142,189.70 Milwaukee County $ 8,410,244.30 Milwaukee City $ 13,958,935.00 $10,238,888.10 Waukesha County $ 9,560,462.10 Remainder High-Needs Allocation $26,326,205.40 Minimum Payment to the State $254,921,242.60 Total Wisconsin Allocation $306,039,006.10
Where can I access additional ERA resources?
More information about the ERA program is available on the U.S. Department of Treasury’s website at: https://home.treasury.gov/policy- issues/cares/emergency-rental-assistance-program
The National Council of State Housing Agencies provides links to many of the state-wide ERA programs through a map on its website at: https://www.ncsha.org/emergency-housing-assistance/
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provides $5 billion in new Emergency Housing Vouchers. Who will be eligible for these vouchers and how will they be distributed?
The bill provides new, targeted housing vouchers for individuals and households experiencing or at risk of homelessness and survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking. These emergency vouchers will operate much like Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers administered by local public housing agencies (PHAs), but will sunset once no longer needed by the households to whom they have been awarded. The Department of Housing and Urban Development must notify PHAs of their allocations of emergency housing vouchers within 60 days of enactment.
Are there resources for homeowners who need individualized advice or legal help?
There are numerous state, local, and non-profit housing counseling agencies that give free advice and assistance to homeowners and those facing foreclosure. To contact one of these agencies, homeowners can contact a HUD-approved housing counselor. If you are in need of legal assistance, you may wish to contact a legal aid attorney.
You may also want to visit consumerfinance.gov/housing for up-to-date information on your relief options, protections, and key deadlines.
What if borrowers are having trouble paying their property taxes?
Many homeowners have an escrow account from which their servicer pays their property taxes and required insurance payments. When borrowers have an escrow account, even if they are in forbearance, property taxes and insurance will be forwarded on their behalf. But some homeowners with a mortgage, as well as homeowners who no longer have a mortgage on their property, may pay property taxes directly to their locality. If homeowners fall behind on these property taxes, they can face fees and ultimately tax foreclosure.
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provides funds to help homeowners. What homeowners are eligible and how will those funds be distributed?
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provides $9.961 billion for a Homeowner Assistance Fund at the Treasury Department, which will provide funds to states, Tribes, and territories to provide direct assistance to homeowners. The law makes assistance available for homeowners who are experiencing a financial hardship associated with the coronavirus pandemic and whose mortgage (if they have a mortgage) is below the conforming loan limit for the area, which is set annually by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and is currently between $548,250 and $822,375 for a one-family home. Homeowners are not required to have a mortgage to receive assistance, and funds can be used to provide mortgage payment assistance, help reinstate a mortgage, facilitate interest rate reductions, provide utility or broadband internet assistance, cover housing-related insurance costs, among other purposes which may be determined in the future. We expect Treasury will put out guidance to further clarify eligible uses of funds, as well as more technical guidance on how funding recipients can determine whether a household is eligible for assistance.
When will Homeowner Assistance Fund money be available?
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 requires the Treasury Department to determine how much in funding each state, Tribe, and territory will get and to begin making payments to those states, Tribes, and territories that tell Treasury they want to administer the funds within 45 days after the bill is enacted, which will be before the end of April 2021. The minimum allocation to each state is $50 million, and funds to Tribes are distributed based on the FY 2020 Indian Housing Block Grant formula. Wisconsin is expected to receive $92,705,301 from the Homeowner Assistance Fund.
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