Washington, DC (STL.News) Mayor Muriel Bowser launched a new program to provide financial assistance to DC residents struggling to make rent and utility payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the Stronger Together by Assisting You (STAY DC) program, renters and housing providers can apply for grant funding to cover past and future rental payments in addition to utilities like water, gas, and electricity.
“A strong recovery starts with ensuring everyone in our community has safe and stable housing. This is about getting Washingtonians the money they need to pay their bills now so that they can stay in their homes once the public health emergency ends,” said Mayor Bowser. “We are grateful that the Biden Administration recognized the need for this investment and delivered on providing the resources necessary to address unprecedented levels of housing instability.”
To qualify for STAY DC, you must be a renter or housing provider in the District who is at risk, or has a tenant at risk, of not paying rent or utilities on a residential dwelling. An applicant’s total 2020 annual household income, as set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, may not exceed designated levels according to household size. For example, a family of four must make less than $82,300. Eligible households may receive up to 12 months of assistance going back to April 1, 2020, and 3 months of assistance for future payments at a time for a total of 18 months of assistance.
“Since the beginning of this pandemic, the District has prioritized meeting the needs of our neighbors who have been negatively impacted by our public health emergency,” said Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development John Falcicchio. “STAY DC will help us prevent housing instability by ensuring District residents can keep a roof over their heads and their utilities on, without sacrificing other basic needs.”
Renters and housing providers can begin submitting applications for rental and utility assistance today at stay.dc.gov, a user-friendly portal that provides a seamless and accessible process for renters and housing providers to facilitate requests for aid, as well as manage and track applications. Applicants can call the STAY DC Call Center at 833-4-STAYDC for support throughout their application process, Monday through Friday from 7 am to 7pm. Residents will also be able to work with Community Based Organizations (CBO) to submit paper applications.
“We want to take this opportunity to thank our robust network of Community Based Organizations who spread the word and assist residents with applying for assistance as only they know how,” said Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) Director Polly Donaldson. “With this new program we build on our year-long rental assistance efforts to date and are expanding our communications and outreach efforts so our residents can STAY in DC.”
The STAY DC program will be administered by the Department of Human Services (DHS) in collaboration with the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED), the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services (DMHHS), and the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). STAY DC replaces the District’s COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program (CHAP) and will augment the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) and Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
“STAY DC provides an essential resource for residents in the District,” said DHS Director Laura Zeilinger. “We understand how important housing stability is to the wellbeing of our neighbors, especially during this unprecedented time, and STAY DC is a critical resource to help families who have suffered financially, keep their homes and meet their financial needs.”
Funding for the program comes from the December Congressional Appropriations Act that made available $25 billion to States, U.S. Territories, local governments, and Indian tribes. The District’s share of the allocation is $200 million which is the minimum amount states may receive under the legislation. Additionally, the American Rescue Plan Act makes an additional $21.5 billion available with the District’s share of the allocation at $152 million meaning a total of $352 million is available for STAY DC and related efforts.