St. John Valley

Temporary program provides rent assistance to County residents during pandemic

AROOSTOOK COUNTY, Maine — A new statewide program to help Maine renters during the COVID-19 pandemic has made rental assistance for the month of April or May available to Aroostook County families and individuals.

On Thursday, Gov. Janet Mills announced that the COVID-19 rent relief program, administered by MaineHousing, will allow renters to apply for a one-time payment of $500 that will be issued to their landlord to avoid eviction. The payment can be processed to apply for either April or May.

The Aroostook County Action Program is one of 10 community action programs throughout Maine that are administering the relief program to local clients. To apply, renters must go to the MaineHousing website, click on “Rental Relief Program” and fill out an application.

Applications ask for a renter’s name, address, number of household members, the amount of their monthly rent and monthly income and contact information for their landlord. MaineHousing forwards applications to ACAP’s Housing Services Program, which reviews the application and contacts landlords for permission to submit the relief payment.

To qualify for rent relief, a renter must not be part of a subsidized rent program, which offers its own alternatives for rent payments, and must earn up to 100 percent of the state median income. For instance, the median income for a family of three is $5,971 per month and $7,108 for a family of four. 

Randy Rattray, coordinator of ACAP’s Housing Services Program, said that ACAP has received $200,000 in funds from the $5 million program to process more than 400 applications.

“People should know that this is a statewide first-come-first-served program, so the more applications we get from Aroostook County, the sooner we can process them,” Rattray said.

ACAP has processed 40 applications so far and received around 30 calls from people looking for information about the program. Rattray expects the number of calls to increase quickly due to many people in Aroostook County unexpectedly facing unemployment.

“This program is going to be very crucial. Lots of people have lost their jobs through no fault of their own due to businesses closing or needing to take care of kids,” Rattray said. “The $500 payments will help tenants focus on getting food and paying bills and it helps their landlords keep putting money into their buildings and the economy.”

For information about the program, contact ACAP at 207-768-3023 or visit mainehousing.org/.

Get the Rest of the Story

Thank you for reading your 4 free articles this month. To continue reading, and support local, rural journalism, please subscribe.