CHEYENNE – Are you struggling to pay your rent or utilities? You are not alone, and it is not your fault. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Wyoming renters need a little extra help right now. Community Action of Laramie County Inc. is ready to help eligible households get the assistance they deserve through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).

The federally funded program officially launched on April 29 in Wyoming, with $180 million available to eligible renters struggling to make rent, internet and utility payments, as well as housing stability services. The Wyoming Department of Family Services, with assistance from the Department of Workforce Services, is administering ERAP and has dedicated $1 million of the federal funds to contract with community-based organizations to provide local, in-person application assistance. Learn more and apply at dfs.wyo.gov/erap.

For local in-person assistance, go to Community Action of Laramie County Inc., located at 1920 Evans Ave. in Cheyenne. Or call 307-635-9291, ext. 115 or ext. 138.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, an estimated 23,515 Wyoming renters may be eligible for this financial assistance, spending more than 30% of their income on rent. As of Oct. 7, ERAP has approved a total of 2,101 applications, or 54% of submitted applications, paying a total of $7.3 million in assistance. Of the rent payments, $5.7 million went to landlords, $1.1 million to renters and $495,000 to utilities.

Another 3,887 renter applications have been submitted and are under review. Once submitted, applications go through the eligibility and benefit determination process, which can take up to 30 days.

ERAP eligibility requirements include:

  • Being a renter in Wyoming or having unpaid rent on a previous Wyoming residence
  • Having a household income of less than 80% of the area’s median income. Laramie County renters meet the income eligibility requirement if they have an annual income of $46,850 for a one-person household, $53,550 for a two-person household, $60,250 for a three-person household and $66,900 for four-person household.
  • Qualifying for unemployment benefits or being able to show direct or indirect financial loss because of COVID-19 or being able to show that financial loss occurred during the COVID pandemic
  • Being at risk of losing housing

Eligible households can obtain assistance for unpaid past due rent and utility services incurred after March 13, 2020 – even at a previous residence. Eligible expenses also include unpaid current and future rent (up to three months at a time) for up to 18 months total of rent and/or utilities. Eligible utility costs include: electricity; energy costs (fuel, oil, propane); water and sewer; and internet service (up to $50 per month). Other eligible expenses, done on a case by case basis, may include reasonable relocation expenses, security deposits, and reasonable late fees.

Additionally, ERAP has provided $1 million to Equal Justice Wyoming for legal services to eligible households facing eviction and/or other housing instability. If facing eviction, please contact Legal Aid of Wyoming, which is a sub-recipient of Equal Justice Wyoming. They may be able to provide other legal assistance to eligible ERAP renters living in Wyoming. Visit www.lawyoming.org or call 1-877-432-9955 for Legal Aid.

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