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How to cover your rent


For more ways to navigate the financial impact of COVID-19, view our Financial Resources page.

If you are having trouble paying your rent, below are some tips to help you take control of the situation and keep a roof over your head.

  • Understand the terms of your lease: Your lease should include information on your rights and options if you are unable to pay your rent.
  • Communicate with your landlord: If you know that you are unable to pay your rent, communication with your landlord is key.  Explain your situation in writing.  If possible, offer to make a late or partial payment on a specified date (and make sure that you are able to keep your word).  If you are a good tenant then it is likely that your landlord would rather work with you than find a new tenant.
  • Seek out free legal advice: Many communities have free legal assistance that provide advice and sometimes mediation between you and your landlord.
  • Find a roommate: Getting a roommate that you can trust can significantly reduce your housing costs.  Require a written rental agreement to be clear about each roommate's responsibilities.
  • Move to a cheaper apartment: In order to make your rent you may need to move to a less expensive apartment.
  • Utilize Through or by dialing 211 you can learn about rental assistance programs in your area.
  • Make use of social services: Apply for other sources of support like food stamps to free up funds to pay your rent.
  • Get a loan from family or friends: While securing a loan from family or friends helps you avoid a lengthy bank application and credit check, it could damage your relationship if you are unable to repay it.  Be conscious of this before entering into an informal loan agreement.
  • Move in with family or friends: Sometimes moving in with family or friends is necessary to save money on high housing costs.
  • Access short-term assistance
    • ​Salvation Army: The Salvation Army offers special one-time assistance to help you pay your rent.
    • Catholic Charities: Catholic Charities has emergency assistance grants that can help you to pay your rent.
    • Modest Needs: Modest Needs offers Self Sufficiency Grants of up to $1,000 to cover one emergency expense.
    • Local Housing Authorities: These agencies may keep lists of local short-term rental assistance resources.
  • Secure long-term rental assistance
    • ​Publicly subsidized housing: Local governments own and manage affordable rental properties. You must be eligible and add your name to a waiting list in order to be considered for public housing.  
    • Privately owned subsidized housing: Some property owners have a contract with HUD to offer below-market rate rental units.  Contact HUD for properties near you.
    • Section 8: The Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) Program will pay most of the rent and utilities of a privately owned property.  Section 8 makes payments directly to your landlord and you pay the difference.
    • Housing and Urban Development (HUD): HUD provides long-term assistance for homeowners and for renters.
    • USDA Rural Development Program: USDA helps people in rural areas with their mortgage or rent.
    • State Assistance: States administer federal funds obtained through the HOME program to provide affordable housing to their residents.