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Frequently Asked Questions

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Application Process 

  1. How long will this process take?
    • At this time, it is difficult to offer a specific timeframe on the review process. We are processing applications diligently in the order in which we receive them. Currently, priority will be given to households who meet the “high-priority” conditions as defined by the U.S. Department of the Treasury of either being below 50% of Area Median Income (low income) and/or having a household member who is and has been unemployed for at least ninety days. Only high-priority applications will be processed and reviewed the first three weeks.
    • Additional time may be required for applications that are submitted without adequate supporting documentation.
    • Please click HERE to check the status of your application in Neighborly
  2. Is there in-person application assistance provided?
    • Yes, please make an appointment by calling 850-403-6044 between 8-5 pm CST Monday through Friday.
  3. I’m a renter - How do I apply for the program?
    • Follow the link to the APPLICATION SITE. The Application can also be accessed by navigating to the top of any page and clicking the Apply/Status button, or if you're on mobile, in the menu that can be opened using the button at the top right of the screen.
    • Create a profile and password. It is important to link your account to an active email address and to use a secure password. Do not share your login or password information with anyone. You will use this login and password to check for the status of your application
    • Login and APPLY
  4. I'm a renter - What documents do I need to have on hand to apply?
    • Valid Photo ID for primary applicant
    • Lease or Rental Agreement
    • Proof of Household Income
    • Proof of COVID-19 hardship
    • Social Security Numbers of all household members
    • Current Utility bill(s), if requesting utility assistance
  5. I’m a landlord – Do I need to submit an application?
    • Yes! Both Landlords and Renters must fill out the application for rental assistance.
  6. How will I know the county has successfully received my application?
    • A confirmation email will be sent to the email associated with your account. You can expect to receive the email within three hours of a successful submission
    • If you believe you have successfully submitted your application, but you have not received an email, please contact 850-403-6044
  7. How can I find where my application is in the process?
  8. Will I be notified if I do not qualify?
    • Yes, if you do not qualify, the system will send an email notifying you of your application deficiencies
  9. Will I be able to save and come back to my application?
    • Yes. Once you start an application, you can save your progress and log-in at a later time to continue or complete your application. We recommend waiting to submit your application until all required documents are received. Incomplete applications will experience delays in review and processing. Do not submit multiple applications as this may also delay processing.
  10. Do I have to repay this assistance?
    • Assistance is in the form of a grant. However, if you falsified documentation required by the program, received duplicate benefits, or if you received assistance for future rent payments and you moved before the date on which any future rent you received is due to your landlord, you will have to repay the assistance. 
  11. I don’t speak English or don’t speak English well enough to complete the application. Can I get an application in another language?
    • The application is available in English and Spanish. On the Neighborly application site, you can select your preferred language. If you need additional assistance, please call 850-403-6044.
  12. How do I request a reasonable accommodation due to a disability?
    • If you are disabled and need help with your application, please contact us at 850-403-6044 to request a reasonable accommodation. Staff also is partnering with the Center for Independent Living to assist with in-person application assistance by appointment to residents with disabilities..
  13. Can I apply on my phone?
    • Yes Neighborly is compatible with cell phones. Applicants can upload pictures and documents directly from their phones.

Application Eligibility – for more information on this, check out the Detailed Eligibility Requirements in the Program Information tab.

  1. How do I know if meet the local Area Median Income (local AMI) requirements?
    • Your income must be at or below the following levels in order to qualify:

      Household Size

      1

      2

      3

      4

      5

      6

      7

      Income

      $38,750.00

      $44,250.00

      $49,800.00

      $55,300.00

      $59,750.00

      $64,150.00

      $68,600.00

  2. When determining income, will the county look at pre-COVID income or my current income?
    • Treasury guidance allows income eligibility to be based on the adjusted gross income for calendar year 2020 or confirmation of the household’s monthly income at the time of application.
  3. I forgot to file income taxes last year. Can I still qualify?
    • Yes. Income may be also be verified by providing current income information such as current employment check stubs, verification from employer, unemployment benefits, current retirement or pension statements, current Social Security statements, bank statements, and/or W-2 Wage Statements.
  4. Is my household “High Priority?” If not, how can I get on the High Priority list?
    • High priority households are those with either an income at or below 50% of Area Median Income (AMI) for Escambia County; or at least one household member listed on the lease is currently unemployed and has been unemployed for at least ninety days prior to the date of application completion.
    • High Priority households will be prioritized during the first three weeks of applications
  5. What does it mean to be “at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability?
    • A person or household is at risk of homelessness or housing instability if a landlord has served an eviction notice or provided communication with the intent to evict, if the household is receiving late notices on utilities, loans, services, or credit cards, if the household has had to obtain loans from family or friends, banks, pawn shops, or payday lenders, or if the household submits a signed statement from a government agency or not-for-profit community agency attesting to the household’s history of applying for assistance and risk of housing instability and/or homelessness during COVID-19.
  6. Can only renters apply, or can landlords apply on behalf of their renters?
    • Either a tenant or landlord can initiate the application. Both the tenant and landlord will need to provide information to the Program in order for the application to be approved. The county encourages landlords to apply and assist their tenants with the ERA application.

Eligible Costs

  1. What utilities are eligible for reimbursement?
    • Water, Sewer, Trash, Propane (for heating, cooking, and hot water), Electricity, and Gas payments are eligible, and will be paid directly to service providers.
  2. Is the cost of Rental Insurance eligible?
    • No
  3. Are late fees from landlords eligible?
    • Yes, reasonable late fees are eligible for reimbursement
  4. Are HOA fees eligible?
    • No
  5. What if I don’t have a current lease?
    • Provide your original lease agreement if you have one.
    • If you do not have a written lease agreement, you will need to complete a Documentation Waiver Review form for staff review
  6. I don’t think I will be able to pay next month’s rent. Can you pay that rent in advance?
    • Priority is given to addressing rental arrears first.
  7. Can you pay past due rent for a location where I no longer live?
    • As long as the past due rent is for homes located Escambia County and the renter has proof of their residency (to include lease, utility bills, etc.), prior rent may be approved.
  8. Is assistance to mobile/manufactured housing permitted?
    • Payment of the lot lease and/or mobile home lease is allowed. Payments on a mobile/manufactured home mortgage is NOT permitted.

Utilities

  1. My utility bill is in someone else’s name. Can the county pay this?
    • Utilities should be in applicant’s name or another member of the household. Assistance may be able to be provided if additional documentation is provided to substantiate that the applicant is residing at the address on the bill. Staff will contact you to request additional documentation if needed.
  2. My utility bill is in my landlord’s name. Can the county pay this?
    • No. Funds will not be approved to pay for utilities in the landlord’s name that are not included in the lease agreement.
    • If utilities are included as part of the lease agreement, those utilities will be reimbursed to the landlord as part of rent payments.
  3. My utilities got shut off. Will this program pay the past due bills and late fees?
    • The county will provide payments for utilities where a shut off notice has been issued.
    • We may require follow up requests for updated statements to confirm the amount owed prior to issuing payment. Late fees may be included in the payment if directly attributable to arrears related to COVIDÔÇÉ19.
  4. I need assistance with utilities only. How do I apply?
    • The application process will be the same as if you are applying for rental assistance.
  5. I’m a homeowner. Can I apply for utility assistance?
    • No. Homeowners are not eligible under this program. If you are a homeowner and need utility assistance, call 2-1-1 for a list of local agencies that may be able to provide assistance.

Payment Processing

  1. Who will the payments be sent to?
    • All payments will be provided directly to the landlord or utility
  2. I’m a landlord – What do I need to do to make sure I am ready to receive funds?
    • Landlords will need to prove ownership and register as a vendor with the county. Refer to the I’m a LANDLORD tab for more information.
  3. Do I have to have a checking account to receive payments?
    • Rent payments will be issued directly to landlords or property management companies; utility payments will be made directly to utility providers. To receive rent payments, both renters and landlords must submit an application with the county. In the application, landlords will be given an option to either receive a check or set up direct deposit.