Vermont Emergency Rental Assistance Program
Vermont State Housing Authority announces changes to the Vermont Emergency Rental Assistance Program
Effective October 1, 2022
The Vermont Emergency Rental Assistance Program (VERAP) was a short-term initiative, funded by an award from US Treasury to keep Vermont renters stably housed after being economically impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency. To date VERAP has provided $138,890,820 in rental assistance.
VERAP was launched in April 2021, on the heels of a prior program funded by the federal CARES ACT funds. These programs have provided millions of dollars to Vermonters for rent arrearage, rent assistance, eviction prevention, and other expenses related to housing.
Based upon initial U.S. Treasury Guidance, VERAP was budgeted to last through 2023. In late March 2022, US Treasury issued guidance that dramatically upended our plan for spending this money. We had no choice but to quickly pivot the program, which changed our timeline and original goals — and required us to ramp up our spending to preserve the remaining emergency rental assistance funds earmarked for Vermont. This we achieved, and as a result more Vermonters received benefits and remained stably housed.
What we’ve learned from this program will inform long-term planning and future policy, and we will be engaging the legislature and community partners on this important work.
Why is VERAP ending?
The Federal allocation given to Vermont is running out, and as a result the State has made a plan to ramp down the program to serve the most vulnerable Vermonters for as long as possible. The shifts in the program reflect that COVID-19 federal funding is not an endless resource and rather than have renters face a financial cliff, a more gradual ramp down will help the federal funds continue to support those most in need. Many other states have already concluded their emergency rental programs.
As VERAP changes there will be many questions and challenges for our rental communities.
How are these benefit reductions determined?
Benefit reductions are being determined based on verified income brackets. The ramp down will allow those in lower income brackets to receive assistance for a longer period. To achieve this, the program will act more like a subsidy by providing a partial rent payment that will vary depending on the months of assistance and the household income. Households already receiving a rental subsidy (like Section 8) will not be eligible beginning October 1, 2022. The objective is to provide benefits to Vermont’s most vulnerable renters through the winter heating months.
VERAP allowed 12,613 households to remain stability housed during an unprecedented public health emergency, with an average monthly rent benefit of $964 per household. Combined with $25,000,000 in assistance of funding from the federal CARES Act, Vermont has been able to provide $163,890,820 to Vermonters in need.
The following data was used to inform the policy and process for ramping down VERAP:
- Number of households at 30% of AMI on 1 October 2022 = 4202
- Number of households between 31-80% of AMI that will be assisted with a reduced benefit reduction through 30 November 2022 = 5396
- Number of households remaining in VERAP as of 31 March 2023 = 3727
- Total number of subsidized households that will be exited from the program on 30 September 2022 = 3015
VERAP is working closely with State agencies and local partners to inform the tenants and landlords who will be most affected by these changes, and to provide access to housing services. Additional information and resources will be posted to the VERAP webpage at https://erap.vsha.org/, and landlords and tenants should continue to work with our program by reaching out to the Call Center: 833-488-3727.
The Vermont State Housing Authority has been in the business of providing critical housing assistance in Vermont for more than 50 years.
Established in 1968, VSHA has the distinction of being the first statewide housing authority in the nation. Throughout our history, we have aggressively and compassionately pursued opportunities to provide and make housing more accessible and affordable for Vermonters. Today, we serve more than 8500 families and are active in almost every community within the state. Our affordable housing initiatives reach many Vermonters, from senior citizens, young families, those who are homeless and those with special needs to residents of mobile home parks. We invite you to travel through our website and see the many housing opportunities and services we provide.
Vermont State Housing Authority does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed or religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, ancestry or place of birth, age, U.S. Military Veteran status, familial status, marital status, disability, HIV status, or because income is derived in whole or in part from public assistance in the admission or access to, or treatment or employment in, its programs and activities.
VSHA is committed to equal housing and employment opportunity and will consider reasonable accommodations upon request. Free interpreter services are available. Please tell us if you need an interpreter or other accommodation.
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