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12 Responds: Where can I get help to pay my rent?

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — As the pandemic worsens locally and around the country, Rhode Islanders continue to look for help with basic necessities like food and housing.

For those who’ve lost their job and have to decide between paying bills and putting food on the table, there are resources available.

Jeffrey wrote into 12 Responds saying he’s three months behind on his rent and has been unable to find a job: “Where can I get help to pay my rent before I lose the roof over my head?”

The state is offering financial assistance through the United Way of Rhode Island’s Safe Harbor Housing Program which is described as an “eviction diversion initiative.”

The program seeks to help people who are experiencing hardships caused by the pandemic and are at risk of losing their home. To qualify, a household’s income must be at or below 80% of the area median income (AMI) and the landlord is required to confirm that rent is past due as a result of the pandemic.

Go here or call 211 to learn more about the program.

Others have expressed concern about feeding their children if they’re learning remotely, like Elizabeth, who wrote: “Are we getting more food stamps for kids learning from home?”

According to the R.I. Department of Human Resources (DHS), the state was approved by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) in the spring to issue pandemic EBT (P-EBT) benefits to both Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients and non-SNAP households with one or more “school age-children” who temporarily lost access to free or reduced-price meals at school because of distance learning.

The additional benefits were available through the end of September but had additional criteria for families to receive them once the new school year began.

On Monday, the DHS received new guidance from the federal government. Rhode Island’s SNAP administrator will meet with the agency and leadership from other states on Tuesday to understand what that means going forward for those who qualify for P-EBT benefits.

Once the benefits are distributed, they’ll be retroactive to Oct. 1, according to the DHS.

How to apply for SNAP benefits »

If you’re experiencing hardships because of the pandemic, there are a number of local programs available:

United Way of RI: COVID-19 Community Resources »
RI Department of Health: Health and Support Services »
Mental Health Association of RI: COVID-19 Resources »

12 Responds: Send us your questions here »

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