Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) for Low-Income Seniors in SC: Tools You Can Use

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ERA Program 2

Being someone who has begun the process of finding and hoping to retain affordable housing on a fixed income, I know first-hand how cumbersome it can be to scope out viable resources that is right for your situation.

One of the major hurdles to accessing such pertinent information is the fact that it is not commonly known what is available; sadly, this is a “who” and “what” you know situation for many disabled and low-income persons.  A friend of mine shared a resource with me that seniors in South Carolina can utilize if they need rental assistance to be able to remain in their homes.  After reviewing the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Program’s brochure, I knew I had to feature it on the blog for the “Tools You Can Use” series.

What is the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Program?  

From the Rental Assistance Guidelines provided by the SC Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Aging (LGOA), the program is funded by a grant awarded to the Lt. Governor’s Office from the South Carolina State Housing Finance and Development Authority.  The Lt. Governor’s Office is to make available this rental assistance program to persons age 60 and older, and who are at 150% of the federal poverty level or below.  The program began in July 2013, and will continue to exist until funds are spent.  The funding awarded to seniors is not a long-term option; it is meant to help those who qualify for the program journey through a rough period in maintaining housing.

How Does One Qualify for the ERA Program?

Assistance is given on a first-come, first served basis.  For this program, there is a two-page application form, and documentation requested to show emergency need.  Applications must be completed in its entirety so that funding assistance will not be delayed.  When an applicant has provided the proper paperwork and deemed qualified by the I&R Specialist at the local Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC) and Lt. Governor’s Office on Aging staff, funds will be sent directly to the property manager/landlord by the LGOA.

The following are more detailed information regarding eligibility and the program process:

  • Assistance will be given to eligible persons 60 years of age and older
  • Eligible households may have a gross income of 150% of the poverty level
  • Applicant must rent or lease his/her primary place of residence in the state of South Carolina
  • Applicant’s name must be on the lease
  • Applicant must be financially able to meet normal rental obligations after the emergency situation has passed
  • Applicants must complete an application packet with the Regional I&R Specialist at the local ADRC
  • Proof of income for the household must be supplied along with photo identification
  • Property Manager/Landlord information must be supplied on the application and a W-9 must be completed
  • Payments will be mailed to the Property Manager/Landlord; and
  • All decisions made by the LGOA are final.

Final Thoughts

With the aging Baby Boomers population, along with the Silent Generation getting into their 90s and triple digit ages, the need for housing assistance programs for seniors is indeed great.  Being able to live in one’s residence helps everyone, from reducing the costs within our medical care system to ensuring that people are comfortable in their environment – their homes.  I hope that this program has adequate funding to sustain itself for years because it seems to be a true life-saver for those who need temporary help to stay in their residence.  In order to keep funding available, we have to tell our politicians how dire of a resource this program is to the individuals who may utilize it.

(Featured headlining image:  Courtesy of StockSnap.io.)

About Vilissa Thompson, LMSW

Vilissa is the Founder & CEO of Ramp Your Voice!, an organization she created to establish herself as a Disability Rights Consultant & Advocate. Ramp Your Voice! is a prime example of how macro-minded Vilissa truly is, and her determination to leave a giant "tire track mark" on the world.

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