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Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) leaves some in limbo

Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) leaves some in limbo
Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) leaves some in limbo 02:57

MIAMI - Victory Homes in Miami was once an office for folks applying for Emergency Rental Assistance in Miami-Dade County. That's no longer the case since ERAP stopped accepting new applicants in February.

However, one woman that met the deadline turned to us to find out if she would receive any help before being forced out of her home.

Amara opens her door to her apartment in Miami, working toward a new opportunity at the University of Miami.

"I felt like law was a natural progression due to my experience," shared Amara.

She asked us to blur her face, not wanting to be recognized.

She moved from Orlando to the Magic City to attend law school last August. At the time, she worked remotely. A month later, Amara was let go.

"They changed the structure and required everybody to be on-site," mentioned Amara.

She applied to Miami-Dade's Emergency Rental Assistance Program last September. They acknowledged her application. But she never received final approval for financial help.

"I kept on calling and calling," shared Amara. "They told me that it would take, you know, 2 to 3 weeks for me actually to get a decision, and that did not happen."

Amara barely managed, landing a new job one month after losing one. She says she went five weeks without a paycheck.

"I could just try to shift my resources a little bit and try to make ends meet," she explained.

Unfortunately, last March, that new employer let her go. So, she updated her case file then and contacted ERAP through email and phone.

"ERAP was giving me impressions and further assurances that I reasonably relied on upon my detriment," said Amara.

Just like last time, ERAP kept her in limbo.

"It was hard for me to sleep," said Amara.

With no income, Amara missed April and May's rent. Her landlord filed for eviction on May 11th.  

"I felt like I was at my breaking point, but my dad was saying, you know, send another email," said Amara.

Amara wrote to the county about her pending eviction and to us for help. We answered. And I emailed the county on May 16th, asking about her situation. Within 24 hours, she received ERAP approval.

"I'm eternally grateful for CBS and everybody who's helped me along this process," shared Amara.

Amara says she will be able to pay her landlord by Tuesday, hopefully.

The county website for ERAP says the county "paused its ERAP but will continue to review applications that have already been submitted."

The pause happened in February. But scrolling down the website, it still encourages people to apply online and lists physical addresses to use, like the other listed in Homestead.

I went inside that office, where a county employee told me people still show up asking to apply for ERAP funds.

I called the Miami-Dade County mayor's office to ask about the confusion, and they told me they'd correct the link since ERAP no longer has physical office locations.

On Tuesday, Joe Gorchow will sit down with the county's public housing director to learn more about how the county continues to push and help those in dire need of rental assistance.

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