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Act now to apply for rental and utility assistance

Thousands of Iowans could be eligible for help  

Oct. 14, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect consumers, both physically and financially.  

“The pandemic has resulted in many losses for Iowans, including their homes,” Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said. “Renters who have experienced hardship as a result of the pandemic are in need of help. There are several programs in our state that seek to address these issues, and I urge Iowans to seek this vital assistance.”  

The most recent Household Pulse Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 3.2% of Iowans are facing housing insecurity. For example, they are not current on rent or mortgage payments and have either slight or no confidence that their household can make next month’s payment on time. 

Iowans in need of immediate rental help because of pending eviction should immediately apply for assistance through the following rent and utility programs and contact Iowa Legal Aid for legal assistance. To find out if you are eligible for free legal help go to or call 1-800-532-1275.

Assistance programs may provide eligible renters and landlords help with rent and utility bills, including water, sewer, and trash removal.  

The Iowa Rent and Utility Assistance Program, managed by the Iowa Finance Authority, provides rental and utility assistance to eligible renters who are at risk of eviction due to a financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

The program is open to renters statewide, except those in Polk and Linn counties, as well as the city of Des Moines.  

Polk County and Des Moines residents may receive assistance through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (EARP) managed by IMPACT Community Action Partnership. In Linn County, renters may be eligible for emergency rental assistance through EARP, managed by Waypoint and the county. 

What assistance do these programs offer renters?  

For renters outside Polk and Linn counties: The Iowa Rent and Utility Assistance Program provides rent and/or utility assistance for a total of up to 12 months in back payment assistance. The program applies to eligible renters who are at risk of eviction due to a financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to the COVID-19 outbreak.  

Utility assistance is available for electricity, natural gas, propane or fuel oil, water, sewer and trash removal.   

Those eligible must:  

  • Meet income qualifications. Renter household with incomes of no more than 80% of area median income are eligible.  

  • Demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability, which may include a past due utility or rent notice or eviction notice.  

  • Provide the impact of the pandemic. One or more individuals in the household must have qualified for unemployment benefits between March 13, 2020, and date of application or have experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship due directly or indirectly to the coronavirus outbreak. 

For renters in Polk County, including the City of Des Moines: The IMPACT Community Action Partnership may provide eligible residents of the City of Des Moines and Polk County with assistance for a period of up to 12 months. Payments are available for payment owed back to March 13, 2020, and for up to three months of future rent.  

ERAP assistance for water, sewer and trash removal for payments owed back to March 13, 2020.  

Those eligible households must:  

  • Have incomes of no more than 80% of Area Median Income (AMI) 

  • Must be past due on their rent or utilities to qualify. 

  • Show proof of impact. One or more individuals in the household have qualified for unemployment benefits or  has experienced a reduction in household income and incurred significant costs either directly or indirectly due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

Renters in Linn County: This program may provide eligible residents with up to 18 months of rent and/or utility assistance. Payments are available for rent owed back to March 13, 2020, and for up to three months of future rent. 

Applicants must be able to provide documentation or self-certify experiencing a financial hardship in their household that has affected their ability to pay rent.  

Utility assistance is available for electricity, natural gas, propane or fuel oil, water, sewer and trash removal.  In some cases, the program can assist with internet payments.  

Those eligible must:  

  • Have household income with no more than 80% of the Annual Median Income.  

  • Show proof of financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic, which began in March of 2020. Those harmed by the August 2020 derecho will meet this requirement. 

  • Show proof the household is experiencing housing instability, including threat of, pending, or current eviction; threat of or a current utility shut off; and threat of homelessness.

For renters who do not qualify for these programs, other resources may be available in your area. To find out more go to or call 211.

What assistance do these programs offer landlords? 

When renters are unable to pay their rent, the landlords who own these properties are also affected. In many cases, if a tenant cannot pay their rent and evicted, the landlord will not be able to recoup those losses. Emergency Rental Assistance Programs may be able to help both parties.   

Each program allows landlords to apply for rental assistance on behalf of their tenants. Once the application has been received, the tenant will then receive notice and information on proper documentation that must be submitted.  

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