WEST VIRGINIA (WDVM) — The COVID-19 pandemic has not only affected people physically and emotionally but also financially. There is a new program that can help pay off overdue bills from financial hardship for West Virginia renters caused by the pandemic.

The Mountaineer Rental Assistance Program is now accepting applications. This program can help eligible renters with payments for overdue rent beginning as early as April 1, 2020. The program can also be applied to payments for up to three months in the future.

The Mountaineer Rental Assistance Program can also help pay off utility bills like water, sewer, gas, electric as well as home energy costs like propane. The program can even provide a one-time stipend of $300 for internet expenses for distance learning, telemedicine, or working from home.

There are specific criteria that must be met in order to qualify for this program. in Gov. Jim Justice’s COVID press conference on Friday, Erica Boggess, the Executive Director at West Virginia Housing Development Fund, explained that renters must meet the main criteria classifications in order to be eligible for financial assistance.

In order to qualify for financial assistance, the applicant must

  • Be a West Virginia residential renter
  • Have a household income at or below 80 percent of the area median income for their county
  • Have have experienced COVID hardship such as lost wages, reduced household income, or unemployment
  • Be at risk of homelessness or housing instability as a result of a past due utility or rent notice or an eviction notice

Boggess also explained that once approved, rental payments will be paid directly to the landlord and utility payments will be made directly to the utility company.

If you do not know your county’s area median income, it can be found on the Mountaineer Rental Assistance Program website.