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October 3, 2022

MaineHousing pauses rental relief program, seeks additional funding

MaineHousing has stopped accepting new applications to the Emergency Rental Assistance Program as the agency awaits word on its request for additional federal funding to meet growing demand.

The program, launched in March 2021 and paid for with federal funds under a pair of COVID-19 relief laws, stopped taking new applications last Thursday at 5 p.m.

MaineHousing Director Daniel Brennan said the "painful" decision to pause the program stemmed from concern that demand from applicants would exceed available funding.

In Friday's announcement, MaineHousing said its request for additional funding from the U.S. Treasury remains "unresolved," and that the pause buys time to process more than 11,000 pending requests to the program.

"This temporary program ... was no intended to be a long-term bandage, a permanent source of rental assistance or a solution to the state's ongoing affordable housing crisis," he added. "Simple math tells us that without replenishment this program cannot run indefinitely."

Maine was among the first states to open its Emergency Rental Assistance program under the federal relief laws. So far, the program has provided $275 million in relief for 33,719 households.

Those who have been helped by the program, which pays rent directly to the landlords of eligible households, include more than 25,800 children and 7,893 older Mainers.

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