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Deadline for MIFA Rent and Utility COVID Aid Looms

Federal Trade Commission

Since September, the Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association, or MIFA, has distributed federal CARES Act funding for rental and utility assistance due to COVID-related financial losses. Now, as the end of the year deadline to spend the entire $3.3 million pot of money looms, the organization is urging potential grant recipients to apply before it’s too late.

Mary Hamlett, vice president of family programs, says some may see the federal moratorium on evictions as a reason to focus on different expenses right now such as keeping the fridge stocked or tranportation to and from work.

“What gets the attention is the boiling pot, and the government saying someone cannot evict you takes that off the front burner while you attend to other things,” she says. 

But, unless the federal government intervenes, evictions are expected to resume in January, which would put rent payments back on the front burner, and people may be too far in debt by then to catch up. That’s why, Hamlett says, people need to apply immediately—the deadline is December 15— for what’s left of this  CARES Act grant.

The organization estimates after the most recent round of applications are processed, about $300,000 is still available. Eligible Memphis residents can apply for up to $1,600—or $800 per housing or utility expense.

A loss of income from COVID-19 can date back to March. 

Hamlett expects the current surge in coronavirus cases to create further hardships for many this winter, such as forcing people to miss work due to sickness or quarantine. With the expiration of CARES Act money less than a month away, she says pressure is mounting for the federal government to provide further financial protections for vulnerable individuals.

“Any little [expense] can capsize the ship, and then we had a big thing that happened in March of 2020,” Hamlett says. “And we’re still not through it yet.”

Applications can be found onMIFA’s website. Assistance through MIFA's traditional crisis program is also available. This funding does not expire at the end of the year.