Legal Issues

Further Details Regarding Iowa’s Newest Rental Assistance Program for Low-Income Iowans - December 11, 2020

Jodie Clark McDougal Spencer M Willems

With newly available federal money, the State of Iowa rolled out another program to provide rental assistance to Iowans and otherwise prevent homelessness by preventing imminent eviction. This newest program is targeted to low-income Iowans.

Program Overview

On December 4, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced nearly $9 million in supplemental CARES Act money will now flow through the Iowa Finance Authority and its local partnering agencies to provide (1) rental payment assistance to low-income Iowans facing eviction and (2) assistance to transition homeless Iowans back to housing. Specifically, 35 agencies were awarded a total of $8.8 million in Emergency Solutions Grant Program funds. The full list of awards is available here.

The new program, called the Emergency Solutions Grant program, went live on Monday, December 7. The rental assistance provided under this program will be available to applicants through September 2022 or until the funds are fully exhausted.

Tenants do not apply directly to the Iowa Finance Authority. Instead, tenants should locate the applicable partner agency(ies) in their area covered by the Emergency Solutions Grant program by entering their county within the County Finder Tool on the program’s website and then call the local agencies.

Different from Prior Iowa Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Program

This program is separate and distinct from other similar state initiatives providing rental assistance, including the Iowa Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Program (EFP), and there is some confusion among Iowans regarding this newest program.

Earlier this year, the EFP provided over $20 million to more than 13,000 Iowans struggling to meet rent or mortgage payments. That program effectively ended on December 4, as the state is no longer accepting applications. As noted, the new Emergency Solutions Grant program will be available to applicants through September 2022 or until the funds are fully exhausted.

Tenant Qualification and Application Process

To qualify for rental assistance under the Emergency Solutions Grant program, a tenant must meet the following criteria:

  • Household income at or below the 50% mark for the median income for their county (county-by-county 50% Area Median Income figure can be found here)
  • Demonstrate that he or she was “economically impacted” by COVID-19
  • Provide a copy of their written lease with their landlord, as well as a notice of eviction
    • Application for these funds should occur immediately after the tenant has received a notice of nonpayment from his or her landlord

  • First be screened in by the regional partner agencies

Program Benefits Both Tenants and Landlords

The Governor’s announcement of supplemental funding for rental assistance is a critical resource for both tenants and landlords. Importantly, much of the rental assistance monies granted to tenants under the Emergency Solutions Grant program are paid directly to the landlord.

Landlords and property managers with tenants struggling to make rent should alert their tenants to this program and encourage them to apply and take advantage of this opportunity.

As noted, tenants should locate and call the applicable partner agency(ies) in their area covered by the Emergency Solutions Grant program. Tenants can also find further information on the Emergency Solutions Grant Website and get their general questions answered by calling 1-833-739-0065.

The Big Picture

Landlords with questions about nonpaying renters or how to proceed in the midst of numerous federal and state programs and guidelines should contact an experienced landlord/tenant attorney.


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