mcj-2021-08-18-news-rental-assistance-programs

ABERDEEN • The Mississippi Home Corporation’s Rental Assistance for Mississippians Program (RAMP) will have a two-day presence this weekend at Aberdeen High School’s gymnasium.

The program assists renters who have either faced a reduction in income for any reason related to COVID-19 or an increase in living expenses due to the pandemic.

Access Family Health Services will be on hand to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to anyone interested during the event.

“The United States government sent money to Mississippi to help people who are renters who are having economic problems because of COVID,” said Sen. Hob Bryan, who was instrumental in attracting the program to Monroe County. “The thought is if you’re behind on your rent, they can send a check to your landlord to get you caught up. If you’re not behind but you’re having economic difficulty, they can send checks to the landlord for future rent.”

In addition to rental assistance, there is also assistance to pay for utilities.

The times of the event are Aug. 20 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. and Aug. 21 from 9:30 a.m. until 2 p.m.

An example of additional expenses incurred Bryant cited was cases of parents who rent and had to hire someone to take care of their children during school hours when school was closed in order for them to go to work.

Through the RAMP’s ERA program, the tenant is in need of help to pay past due rent/utilities or has a median income below 80% of the median income.

For Monroe County, the below 80 percent scale is $30,600 for a household of one person, $39,350 for three people in a household, $47,200 for a household of five people and $57,700 for eight people in a household.

Documents tenants must bring to the workshop include a driver’s license or other form of identification; a lease or proof of rent; some type of proof of income, such as pay stubs or income tax returns; and utility bills.

“The maximum amount of money a person can get is three months in the future. If the world doesn’t change, you can reapply,” Bryan said.

A website, www.ms-ramp.com, is available to assist tenants, but the RAMP workshops help people who may not have computers or internet access to the program.

“They’re now just beginning to go out and find the people and compelling them to come. There have been three events in the Jackson area, one event in the Delta and this event in Aberdeen,” Bryan said.

Aberdeen was chosen for its centralized location for the counties primarily involved – Lowndes, Clay, Monroe, Chickasaw and Lee. The effort to host the program has gained support from local leadership in addition to officials in neighboring counties.

“Generally speaking, the people who own the apartment complexes know about the website and have notified their renters and know about filling out the forms. They know about it more so than the individuals,” Bryan said. “If you’re a landlord, you should get your tenants to show up together and apply.”

In addition to landlords spreading the word to their tenants, he encourages community leaders, churches and local organizations to help inform others of the opportunity.

Bryan expects for the workshop to be a one-time event locally.

As far as vaccinations, people may pre-register by calling 651-4637.

“We’re trying to remove what barriers there are and take the vaccinations to the people who want them,” said Access Family Health Services Executive Director Marilyn Sumerford.

As of last week, Access was close to administering its 8,000th COVID-19 vaccination to date. In addition to offering vaccinations at its Smithville clinic daily, it has participated in back to school immunization events for those interested, in addition to an event at a church in Prairie.

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