Richland Co. announces phone, online portal for rental assistance program

Toll-free number and web link launch at 8:30 a.m. April 5.
Updated: Mar. 29, 2021 at 12:55 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Residents in Richland County struggling to make rent or pay utilities will soon be able to apply for rental assistance by phone and online.

Richland County will begin accepting applications by phone and online at 8:30 a.m. Monday, April 5, for its Emergency Rental Assistance Program in order to help eligible residents pay rent and utility bills.

Officials say they made the announcement early in order for residents to make preparations. Neither phone or online option will be active before the launch date.

Residents can also soon begin scheduling in-person appointments to get help submitting their application.

Residents are encouraged to apply online for faster processing of their applications, as documentation must be submitted and can be uploaded through the online portal. For residents without internet access or who need help completing the application, the phone line, as well as in-person assistance, will be available.

The U.S. Treasury recently awarded Richland County $12.5 million to help qualifying renters who have been impacted by COVID-19.

RELATED | Richland County providing $12.5 million in emergency aid to renters

The Emergency Rental Assistance Program provides up to 12 months of rental and utility assistance, plus an additional three months if funds are available if needed to ensure housing stability.

Officials encourage eligible renters to apply, as well as owners/landlords on behalf of renters.

Beginning at 8:30 a.m. April 5, residents can access the ERAP application online through the County’s website at www.richlandcountysc.gov, or they can call the program’s toll-free number at 855-216-9198.

The phone line will be open from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Monday thru Friday and on Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m..

Residents without in-home internet service can use the HomeSpot lending program offered by Richland Library.

The HomeSpot lending program allows residents to borrow a Wi-Fi hot spot for internet access at home. For details, call 803-569-3563. Free outdoor Wi-Fi is available at all 13 Richland Library locations.

Eight additional locations are open for free indoor computer use:

  • Main, 1431 Assembly St., Columbia
  • Ballentine, 1200 Dutch Fork Road, Irmo
  • North Main, 5306 N. Main St., Columbia
  • Sandhills, 763 Fashion Drive, Columbia
  • Southeast, 7421 Garners Ferry Road, Columbia
  • St. Andrews, 2916 Broad River Road, Columbia
  • Eastover, 608 Main St., Eastover
  • Northeast, 7490 Parklane Road, Columbia

All applicants should be prepared to provide the following information with documentation (Social Security information is requested, but not required or mandatory to apply):

  • Name and contact information
  • Address – household applicants must reside in a rental property within Richland County
  • Status – renter or landlord?
  • Copy of an applicable lease agreement or self-attestation in the absence of a lease agreement
  • Household income – must be below 80 percent of Area Median Income (AMI)
  • Rental/utility payment status
  • In arrears or prospective?
  • Impact of COVID-19
  • Is there economic hardship? How?
  • Is there a risk of homelessness or housing instability? How?

Officials say ERAP funds must be used to reduce past-due rental and utility balances before future rent payments can be made. Once past-due balances are settled, the County will consider future rent payments for up to three months at a time.

Find more information, including updated rules and frequently asked questions on ERAP, at www.richlandcountysc.gov/ERA.

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