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$100M in emergency rental assistance has been distributed to 17,000 Maine households

Nora Flaherty
Maine Public/file

MaineHousing says it has reached a milestone in distributing federal funds that cover rent and utilities for people who are facing hardship related to the pandemic.

Director Daniel Brennan says he expected up to 14,000 households would apply for help — but so far, more than $100 million has been distributed to 17,000 households.

"It really has exceeded our expectations, and normally that's a good thing when you're in our business. But in this case, I think it has underscored the crisis that renters are finding themselves in," Brennan says.

Despite the financial stress brought on by the pandemic, Brennan says the Emergency Rental Assistance Program has helped people stay in their rentals. Average monthly eviction filings in Maine fell to 293 last year, compared to a pre-pandemic average of 430 per month.

"What we've seen is that the filing of evictions in Maine now compared to pre-pandemic is down significantly, which is telling us that these funds actually are keeping people out of evictions," Brennan says.

Brennan says Maine's Emergency Rental Assistance Program is expected to continue at least through September.

Corrected: January 5, 2022 at 8:07 AM EST
An earlier version of this article misstated the number of households expected to apply for pandemic assistance.