New Mexicans experiencing COVID-19 related financial hardship can apply, starting Monday, for three months of rent and utility assistance under the Emergency Rental Assistance Program being administered by the state Department of Finance and Administration.
The pool of $170 million from the federal government is separate from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, said DFA spokesman Henry Valdez.
However, to qualify, people must demonstrate that the pandemic caused them to experience such things as job loss, furlough, closure of a place of employment, or reduction in self-employment compensation, he said.
Additional months of rent and utility assistance could be available, “depending if there is money from the allotment left over after the initial disbursement,” Valdez said.
“We know many New Mexicans require a variety of aid as a result of the pandemic, and as we acquire more funds, we will get the money out the door as quickly and efficiently as possible,” said DFA Secretary Debbie Romero.
Pueblo and tribal governments in New Mexico have each received separate allocations that they will administer through their own application and disbursement process, as will Doña Ana and Bernalillo counties.
Doña Ana County will distribute about $9.3 million. Applicants can go to DonaAnaCounty.org/rent-utiltiy-assistance.
Bernalillo County will distribute about $5 million. Applicants can go to Bernco.gov/rent.
The city of Albuquerque has a separate allocation of about $24 million, “but they are partnering with the state in administering the program,” Valdez said.
Residents from Albuquerque as well as counties in which applications are being processed through the DFA can go to renthelpNM.org.
Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller called the rental and utility assistance funds an important extension of the safety net for pandemic-affected residents.
“By teaming up with the state and local partners, we can streamline the application process and quickly get money to those in our community who need it to stay housed,” Keller said.
“Identifying New Mexicans in need of rental and utility assistance will take a collaborative effort, so in addition to our efforts, we hope to collaborate with nonprofits and other entities for community outreach,” said Donnie Quintana, the DFA’s Local Government Division director.
The assistance will be paid directly to the landlord and/or utility provider, depending on the applicant’s financial assistance request.
Landlords and utility providers are encouraged to download a W-9 taxpayer identification form and submit it to DFA via ERAVendor.Relations@state.nm.us.