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A Note From Legal Aid For Help During Difficult Financial Times


Dear Folks:

 

During these difficult times, new financial help programs are available to many Vermonters.  The state does not want people to be struggling to pay bills, so please apply, even if you don’t usually get public help. Vermont Legal Aid has more information on these programs on our website: http://vtlawhelp.org.

 

Vermont Legal Aid is also able to help individual tenants and homeowners. Call us at 1-800-889-2047 or go to http://vtlawhelp.org. For the fastest response, leave a message explaining what you need in a sentence or two.

 

1.     Help with past-due rent 

For help with past-due rent, Vermonters should apply for the Rental Housing Stabilization Program through the Vermont State Housing Authority (VSHA). Tenants and landlords apply for this program at the same time. There are no income limits. VSHA pays landlords directly to bring the tenant’s rent account current. This program will last until December 30 or until the money runs out. You can get help now, and apply again if you still need help later. Learn more about this help for paying past-due rent on our website or reach us for help.

 

2.     Moving to a new home  

Some people need to move because of life safety problems with their rental unit, the rent is too expensive, they have trouble with the landlord or other tenants, or the unit is too big or too small. If you need to move and have found a new landlord, apply together for the Money to Move program at vsha.orgThe program can cover the money needed to move in, such as first and last month’s rent and security deposit. It also may cover rent payments through the end of this year. Learn more about this help on our website or reach us for help.

 

3.     Emergency housing for people who do not have a home

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) Economic Services Division is extending housing support for homeless households. For more information or to apply, contact the Benefits Service Center at 1-800-479-6151.  Follow this link for the program rules.

If you stay in a shelter or motel, you need to participate in “coordinated entry.” Through coordinated entry, you will be assigned a housing case manager who will help you access subsidies and programs to help you get permanent housing. To learn more about coordinated entry, call 2-1-1. If you worked with your case manager to apply for a subsidy or other program and your application was denied, call Vermont Legal Aid at 1-800-889-2047.

4.    Past-Due Utility Bills  

 The Department of Public Services (DPS) can help pay past-due utility bills. The bills can be for electric, natural gas, landline telephone service or regulated private water bills (not municipal water). Homes and small businesses are eligible. There are no income limits, and you don’t have to have a disconnect notice. However, your difficulty paying the bill must be linked to COVID. The funding only covers arrearages after March 1, 2020. If you need help to fill out an application online, contact your local community action agencyLearn more on the Department of Public Service website.

 

5.    Mortgage Assistance Program (and maybe Property Tax Assistance)

This program can pay up to six past-due mortgage payments on your home. It is available to all Vermonters who:

  • are at least 1 month past due on mortgage payments
  • have a COVID-related hardship, and
  • meet the income requirements.

Even people who have mortgages in forbearance are eligible. If you have a mortgage and are behind on property taxes that you pay directly to the town, you may also be eligible for assistance. Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) is taking applications for the Vermont COVID Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program. (You do not need to have a VHFA mortgage to be eligible.Learn more about the mortgage assistance on our website or reach us for help. 

 

Barb Prine

Staff Attorney

Disability Law Project, Vermont Legal Aid

802-863-5620 X254

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