Q+A for Renters: Georgia Rental Assistance Program

To help renters learn how to apply for rental assistance, The Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) invited renters statewide to attend a live webinar session on May 21. DCA shared information on how to properly apply for the Georgia Rental Assistance program and answered questions renters submitted prior to the webinar.
To access the webinar recording, please click here. Below are the questions from renters that DCA answered during the webinar that can be used as a resource for you:
Program Questions:
How soon can they start helping? 
At this time, DCA is not providing any lengths of time around when applicants will receive funding. The time this takes varies heavily depending on the details on an application. 
Disbursements will take as long as necessary to ensure proper documentation is collected and verifications conducted per Treasury guidance. The quickest way to receive disbursements is to promptly and correctly complete all required information. 
Is this program for COVID-19 survivors?  
The United States Treasury allocated $25 billion to be distributed to states and local governments intended to provide relief to landlords and tenants who are behind on rental payments due to the coronavirus pandemic. Financial assistance is being made available through this program to eligible tenants, their landlords, and utility providers to cover activities including rent arrears, current and future rent payments, and utility arrears payments.
Can you still be evicted before the assistance starts? 
The CDC Eviction Moratorium has been extended until June 30, 2021, meaning that no one should be evicted solely for non-payment of rent until that date. Visit GeorgiaLegalAid.org for more information. If a landlord refuses to participate, DCA can still pay the tenant. We would need to be alerted to who that tenant is and will require something in writing from the landlord to say he or she does not want to participate as well.
If we only asked for a few months, how will we go about extending our months if we need to? 
You may update your application in the Renter Portal on georgiarentalassistance.ga.gov. 
Application Status/Renter Portal Questions:
Will there be communication through email if we are approved and when we will receive assistance?  
You can check the status of your application at any time through the Georgia Rental Assistance website at georgiarentalassistance.ga.gov to see if you are approved.
How long does it take for my application to be approved?
The timeframe to be assigned a processor cannot be determined at this time. Applications are being processed as they are being received. Due to the high volume of applications, the process has the potential to be delayed. The Georgia Department of Community Affairs has hired over 200+ employees for the Georgia Rental Assistance program to assist with the high volume of applications. However, applications are being reviewed as fast as possible. You may also check the status of your application at any time at georgiarentalassistance.ga.gov.
What are the application statuses in order?
GRA team members will be communicating any updates regarding applications using the two-way communication feature in the portal. However, as the application advances, the renter will see in order of approval: application received, application under review, additional information required (if applicable), and application under review. Once the application has been reviewed, the renter will see that the application has been approved, denied, ineligible, or duplicate (which indicates that this application is a duplicate of another application).
Questions about Landlords:
If your landlord sells the property and you have a new landlord. Do you need to reapply or just submit new landlord information? 
If both the tenant and previous landlord have already e-signed the application, this will prevent both parties from editing the information submitted. In that case, the previous landlord/owner should upload additional documents for the new owner so that the processor will see that there is a new owner. If both the tenant and the previous landlord have not already e-signed the application, the tenant would need to provide the new landlord’s email address, so the new landlord can be notified to complete an application. It would be most ideal for the tenant to contact their new landlord and tell them to look for an invitation from Georgia Rental Assistance.
My landlord refuses to participate already; what do I do?
If the landlord refuses, we can still pay the renter. We would need to be alerted to who the tenant is though, and we would need something in writing from the landlord to say he or she does not want to participate. This information can be uploaded in the portal with your application. 
Will DCA contact my landlord?
Only if there is something missing on a landlord's application; landlords and renters are advised to communicate with each other since the application needs info from both sides (in most cases).
Eligibility Questions:
What makes someone eligible for the Georgia Rental Assistance program?
Fill out the Georgia Rental Assistance pre-screening here. Click on “I’m a Tenant” to find out if you’re eligible for assistance.
If I'm subletting, can I still get assistance?
The tenant (renter) named on the lease is the person who should be requesting assistance. This scenario indicates that there is a middle person.
Will we be able to receive aid for our current location if the lease ends and we change locations?
The rent arrears date back to March 13, 2020, so if they are moving to a new location and no longer occupy the rental home, then they will not be eligible for assistance.
I live in Dalton and completed the application. However, if you do not live in the City of Dalton, GRA cannot help you. Can you tell me why?
The US Treasury has released extensive policy guidance that state and local governments are expected to follow. The decision to not fund statewide from day one is designed to comply with this guidance. Currently, many counties have their own funding.
Miscellaneous Questions:
I need help with housing now that I am homeless. Do you also help to find housing?
Yes, visit dca.ga.gov/safe-affordable-housing for information on additional programs.
Are there any assistance programs available or coming soon for homeowners?  
At this time, there is not. 
What options are available for private bilingual landlord and renter relationships? 
The portal can be changed from English to several other languages from the homepage, but the program requirements are universal.