By Hank Tester

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Help is on the way for Miami residents who have been hit hard by the pandemic and are behind on their rent.

The City of Miami has launched the Emergency Rental Assistance program (ERA) 2021, It’s aimed at stabilizing rental households by helping income-eligible renters within the city’s limits who are past due in rent or have suffered financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“The program is designed to help them with up to 12 past due months of rent of up to $2-thousand per month including utility payments may be past due as well,” said Alfredo Duran, Assistant Director of Housing and Community Development.

The program is made possible with approximately $14.1 million in federal funds.

“It could be you are affected by COVID, lost your job, or had a reduction in pay going back to March of last year,” said Duran.

So who is eligible? Those applying must be a Miami resident, a renter 18-years-old and older, qualified for unemployment benefits, and have experienced a reduction in household income. The household income must be at or below 80 percent of area median income, based on household size.

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“That means if you are a single-person household, the income limit is $51,200. For a family of four it is $73,000,” said Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.

Those applying must provide a current rental lease, proof of income for all members of the household, photo ID for all adult members of the household, copies of utility bills. Also, landlords can apply for their tenants.

So where does the money go?

“It goes to the landlord, so the landlord needs to participate and provide us with information so we can pay them directly we do not pay the tenant directly,” said Duran.

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Completed applications will be accepted through Friday, April 30, and be processed on a first-come, first-serve basis.