Federal Rental Assistance Program Closed to New Applications

Launched in May 2021, RentReliefRI has assisted over 29,000 renter households to date.

RentReliefRI has been a lifeline for RI renters impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, helping thousands of families remain in their homes and catch up on rent and utility payments. The federally-funded RentReliefRI program closed to new applications on June 1, 2022. Launched in March of last year, the program provides financial assistance to cover rent arrears, forward facing rent, utility arrears and certain other housing expenses.

Completed applications that were submitted by June 1, 2022, will continue to be processed and those that meet eligibility guidelines will be eligible to receive assistance after the closing date, which will be limited to past due rent and utilities, current month rent and 3 months forward-facing rent after which time there will be no further financial assistance available under the RentReliefRI program.

Updates on the status of your application will appear in the application portal. Please log into your application to view any status updates. Additionally, you may receive emails from your Case Manager requesting additional information or sharing updates with you. For some applicants, emails from RentReliefRI program staff may end up in their ‘junk’ or ‘spam’ email folders. If you have applied for rental and/or utility assistance from RentReliefRI, please remember to check your junk/spam folders on a regular basis so you do not miss important emails.

Effective 8/3/2022, the RentReliefRI program has discontinued the internet stipend of $50/month.

EXISTING APPLICATIONS

Completed applications submitted prior to 11:59 pm on June 1, 2022, will remain under review, and if found eligible for assistance, may receive help with past due rent and utilities, current month’s rent and three (3) months of forward-facing rent. After the forward-facing rent is paid, there will be no further assistance available from the RentReliefRI program. Additional information for applicants can be found in our FAQ >

If you need help updating your application, you may reach out to your case manager or the RentReliefRI Call Center. If you need assistance to update your application, or require legal assistance, you may also reach out to one of our community partners. A listing of community partners is available here.

RECERTIFICATIONS

RentReliefRI is no longer accepting new applications.

  • If you have received assistance on or after the month of March 2022 and are scheduled to recertify during the month of June or July 2022, you are not eligible to receive assistance as the program closed to new applications (including recertification) on June 1, 2022.

Additional information for applicants can be found in our FAQs >

Information for Applicants Awaiting Review

The RentReliefRI program closed to new applications on June 1, 2022. If you submitted your application prior to the closing date, your application will remain under review, and if found eligible for assistance, you may be eligible for help with past due rent and utilities, current month’s rent and three (3) months of forward-facing rent.

Updates on the status of your application will appear in the application portal. Please log into your application to view any status updates. Additionally, you may receive emails from your Case Manager requesting additional information or sharing updates with you. For some applicants, emails from RentReliefRI program staff may end up in their ‘junk’ or ‘spam’ email folders. If you have applied for rental and/or utility assistance from RentReliefRI, please remember to check your junk/spam folders on a regular basis so you do not miss important emails

If your situation changes (you become homeless or are at risk of homelessness, your income increases or decreases, etc) please be sure to update your application and/or reach out to the Case Manager assigned to you.

Note: Applications are reviewed based on a “prioritization system” (refer to our FAQ for information on how applications are prioritized). Please note, it may take several weeks for your application to be reviewed due to the volume of applications received and the prioritization system.

Who is eligible for RentRelief RI?

Tenant applicants must meet all of the following criteria to be considered for rent relief:

  • Your household income must meet certain income limits. Limits vary by location and household size. Click here to view Income Limits > 
  • You must have qualified for unemployment benefits or have experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, OR experienced other financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to COVID-19.
  • You must show you are at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability. This may include submitting past-due rent and utility bills or eviction notices when you apply.
  • Applied by the deadline: 11:59 p.m. on June 1, 2022.

This program is only for renters and their landlords.

Questions?

RentReliefRI Call Center: 1-855-608-8756

Hours of Operation: M-F: 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

UPDATE: 02-17-2022

RentReliefRI Centreville Bank Partnership.

RIHousing has partnered with Centreville Bank to assist direct payment recipients who lack a traditional bank account. Centreville Bank will establish an account for direct payment recipients to deposit their RentReliefRI check and have the funds paid to their landlord(s) via cashier’s check.
Learn more on our FAQ >

UPDATE: 02-07-22

Renters Needing Assistance with Heating Oil and/or Propane

There are financial resources available through Community Action Programs (CAP) across RI. CAP agencies administer both the Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) and the Good Neighbor Energy Fund programs. Interested households may apply for either program via a CAP agency serving their community.  Click here to learn more >

Frequently Asked Questions

Please note that RentReliefRI closed to new applications on June 1, 2022.

I have applied for RentReliefRI already but have not yet been approved. Does this mean I will not be able to receive assistance now that the program has closed?

If you have submitted your application prior to the closing date (11:59 p.m. on June 1, 2022), your application will remain under review, and if found eligible for assistance, you may be eligible for help with past due rent and utilities, current month’s rent and three (3) months of forward-facing rent. After the forward-facing rent is paid, there will be no further assistance available from the RentReliefRI program.

I submitted my completed application for RentReliefRI assistance prior to June 1, 2022. What do I do now and how do I know if my application is being reviewed or if there are any updates?

Thank you for your submission to the RentReliefRI program. Applications for assistance are reviewed based on a “prioritization system.” Applications will be assigned to an auditor to begin working on based on their priority level.  The higher the level, the earlier the application will be assigned and therefore the potential to be paid out earlier than those with lower priority.  RIHousing is also permitted to establish other priorities, at its discretion. RIHousing is required to prioritize the following applicants:

Priority 1
Applicants with a risk of eviction AND that have an AMI at or below 50% AMI AND that have been unemployed 90 days or more will be given a priority level of 1.   Risk of eviction will be defined as having a notice to vacate, where a hearing has taken place and judgment to vacate has been issued, those that have received a court date notice or received notice of a utility disconnection or a 5-day demand letter.

Priority 2
Applicants with a risk of eviction AND an AMI at or below 50% will be given a priority level of 2.

Priority 3
Applicants with an AMI at or below 50% AND that have been unemployed 90 days or more will be given a priority level of 3.

Priority 4
Applicants with an AMI at or below 50% will be given a priority level of 4.

Priority 5
Applicants with an AMI between 50-80% will be given a priority level of 5.

Updates on the status of your application will appear in the application portal. Please log into your application to view any status updates. Additionally, you may receive emails from your Case Manager requesting additional information or sharing updates with you. For some applicants, emails from RentReliefRI program staff may end up in their ‘junk’ or ‘spam’ email folders. If you have applied for rental and/or utility assistance from RentReliefRI, please remember to check your junk/spam folders on a regular basis so you do not miss important emails.

If you have questions regarding your case, you may also reach out to the Case Manager assigned to you. Please note, it may take several weeks for your application to be reviewed due to the volume of applications received and the prioritization system.

I was recently recertified for three (3) months of forward-facing rent. Will I be eligible for additional rental payments now that the program has closed to new applications?

RentReliefRI is no longer accepting new applications (recertifications included) as of June 1, 2022.

Who is eligible for Rent Relief RI?

Tenant applicants must meet all of the following criteria to be considered for rent relief:

  • Your household income must meet certain income limits. Limits vary by location and household size. Click here to view Income Limits.
  • You must have qualified for unemployment benefits or have experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, OR experienced other financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to COVID-19.
  • You must show you are at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability. This may include submitting past-due rent and utility bills or eviction notices when you apply.
  • You must submit a completed application prior to 11:59 pm on June 1, 2022.
  • You must have submitted a completed application prior to 11:59 pm on June 1, 2022. 
I have received a preapproval letter for a security deposit and up to three months of forward-facing rent. Will I still be able to receive assistance now that the program has closed?

If you received a pre-approval letter for forward-facing assistance with rent and/or security deposit,  secured a unit and updated the information in your online application by 11:59 pm on June 1, 2022, you will still be able to receive three (3) months of rental assistance.

If you were not able to do so, you will not be able to receive the rental assistance.

What other resources exist for renters struggling to make their rent and/or utility payments?

United Way 2-1-1 in Rhode Island is a 24/7 social and human services helpline that offers free and confidential referrals to programs and services throughout the state. Dial 2-1-1 for immediate assistance from a specialist or visit their website for more information.

For those experiencing homelessness, call the Rhode Island Coordinated Entry hotline at (401) 277-4316.

Free legal aid is available to assist low-income tenants with referrals, legal information, and legal representation for evictions statewide. Renters can reach out to RI Legal Services and/or The Center for Justice for assistance.
RI Legal Services: 401-274-2652 // The Center for Justice: 401-491-1101.

What will Rent Relief RI cover?

The Emergency Rental Assistance Program can pay for rent and some utilities owed back to April 1, 2020.

There is no monthly cap on eligible rent relief. The monthly amount is determined by the rent payment agreed to in your lease and documented arrearages. The program will also cover the security deposit and up to three months of upcoming rent.

Utilities include electricity, water, trash, and heat. New applications for rent and utilities assistance that are submitted by 11:59 pm on June 1, 2022 may be eligible to receive assistance for past due rent and/or utilities, current rent, and three (3) months of forward-facing rent.

Does RentReliefRI assistance need to be paid back?

Assistance does not need to be paid back  and it does not count as income for tenants.

What should I do if I am facing eviction?
If you are facing eviction, please contact RI Legal Services or the Center for Justice.

If you have applied for rental assistance from the RentReliefRI program, please note your status as applicant in eviction proceedings is prioritized.

 

How do landlords get paid?

Once an application is approved for rental assistance, funds will be distributed. For landlords that participate in the program, payment will be sent to them via direct deposit or check. In situations where the landlord(s) is not participating, the payment goes directly to the tenant.

 

Am I eligible for assistance from the Rent Relief RI program if I also received assistance from other rental assistance programs?

Receiving assistance from other programs neither qualifies nor disqualifies you from receiving assistance from RentReliefRI. However, you cannot receive assistance for any costs that have already been paid through other rental assistance programs.

Please note: the RentReliefRI program has closed to new applications..

I have applied but I have not received any communications from RentReliefRI.

For some applicants, emails from RentReliefRI program staff may end up in their ‘junk’ or ‘spam’ email folders. If you have applied for rental and/or utility assistance from RentReliefRI, please remember to check your junk/spam folders on a regular basis so you do not miss important emails.

How are applicants prioritized for RentReliefRI?

RIHousing is required to prioritize serving families that meet certain criteria by using a “prioritization” system.  Applications will be assigned to an auditor to begin working on based on their priority level.  The higher the level, the earlier the application will be assigned and therefore the potential to be paid out earlier than those with lower priority.  RIHousing is also permitted to establish other priorities, at its discretion. RIHousing is required to prioritize the following applicants:

Priority 1
Applicants with a risk of eviction AND that have an AMI at or below 50% AMI AND that have been unemployed 90 days or more will be given a priority level of 1.   Risk of eviction will be defined as having a notice to vacate, where a hearing has taken place and judgment to vacate has been issued, those that have received a court date notice or received notice of a utility disconnection or a 5-day demand letter.

Priority 2
Applicants with a risk of eviction AND an AMI at or below 50% will be given a priority level of 2.

Priority 3
Applicants with an AMI at or below 50% AND that have been unemployed 90 days or more will be given a priority level of 3.

Priority 4
Applicants with an AMI at or below 50% will be given a priority level of 4.

Priority 5
Applicants with an AMI between 50-80% will be given a priority level of 5.

What should renters do if they need assistance with heating oil and/or propane?

There are financial resources available through Community Action Programs (CAP) across RI. CAP agencies administer both the Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) and the Good Neighbor Energy Fund programs. Interested households may apply for either program via a CAP agency serving their community.

Click here to learn more >

I’ve been approved for rental assistance via direct payment but do not have a bank account. What can I do to ensure I can deposit my check and pay my landlord the funds received?

RIHousing has partnered with Centreville Bank to assist direct payment recipients who lack a traditional bank account. Centreville Bank will establish an account for direct payment recipients to deposit their check and have the funds paid to landlords via cashier’s check.

Once applicants receive their RentReliefRI check, they can visit Centreville Bank’s Cranston branch location (193 Comstock Parkway, Cranston, RI) to speak with a member of their team to start the process. The bank will have dedicated staff available to help during regular business hours: Monday – Thursday 8:30 AM – 4:00 PM; Friday 8:30 AM – 6:00 PM; Saturday 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM. Bank staff will confirm the person’s name, check number and check amount with RentReliefRI staff and open a bank account to deposit the funds and provide a cashier’s check for the landlord. This new partnership will remove a significant barrier for renters who lack access to a bank account.

Please note, the RentReliefRI program has been closed to new applications on June 1, 2022.

About RentReliefRI

RentReliefRI is being supported, in whole or in part, by federal award number ERA0013 awarded to the State of Rhode Island by the U.S. Department of Treasury.

Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program (RentReliefRI) Program Administrative Plan – 07/01/2022

Newly passed legislation in Rhode Island now makes it illegal to discriminate against a potential tenant based on their source of income. This includes discriminating against tenants because they receive a housing choice voucher. This discrimination may include advertisements that say “No Section 8 allowed” or telling a potential tenant a unit is no longer available after learning they have a voucher. To learn more, please click here.