Cobb County
HomeSaver
for Renters

The Emergency Rental Assistance Program (“ERA”) is an effort to provide assistance to families and individuals who are suffering a temporary financial setback due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. The Program serves residential renters in eligible households in Cobb County with assistance in paying delinquent rent, rent arrears, utilities and home energy costs, and/or utilities and home energy costs arrears for tenants unable to pay rent or utilities due to a loss of income or other financial hardship related to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Funding for this Program has been allocated to Cobb County through the U.S. Department of Treasury.

HomeFree-USA, A National HUD Intermediary, HomeFree-USA,
administers the Cobb HomeSaver Program.

How It Works

Renters who have experienced a COVID-19 related involuntary financial hardship, resulting in reduced income due to; a change in employment, medical hardship, or termination/reduction of hours due to child school closure, may apply for a maximum of 12 months assistance for delinquent rent, rent arrears, utilities and home energy costs arrears. Assistance is available with respect to payments originally due beginning March 13, 2020.

If approved, the assistance will be payable directly to the utility provider and/or landlord on behalf of the tenant. Assistance WILL NOT be paid directly to the applicant. The maximum amount of assistance eligible households may receive is dependent upon need, eligibility, and funding availability. Households will not receive more than the maximum.

A fully completed application, with consent forms, landlord verification form, and other required documents must be submitted in order to be considered. All applicants must meet the income eligibility criteria and must have a documented loss of income due to COVID-19.

The information below will assist renters in understanding who is eligible, how to apply, how monies will be disbursed, and the conditions for approval.

Eligibility Requirements

In order to be considered one or more individuals obligated to pay rent under the terms of a residential lease or obligation to pay rent must the following criteria:
  • Must be delinquent in paying your rent (and/or) utilities if seeking assistance
  • Qualifies for unemployment or has experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19
  • Demonstrates a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability
  • Has a household income at or below 80 percent of the area median income (A “household” consists of all the people who occupy the housing unit to include family members, roomers, partners, foster children, and any other unrelated people who share the housing unit).
  • Be a resident of Cobb County
  • Have a current residential lease agreement or be able to provide documentation that reasonably establishes a pattern of paying rent
  • Have current utility bills in the tenant’s name
*Assistance under this program is not allowed for households residing in a hotel, motel, temporary lodging, or a boarding house at this time.  Lease-purchase and rent to own units are ineligible for assistance in addition to housing cooperatives.

Applications

HomeFree-USA certified advisors will review each application received in order to determine eligibility. Depending on the level of need for the applicant, the advisor will recommend rental assistance (up to $4,800). Awards will be paid out on a first-come first-serve basis providing all eligibility criteria has been met.

As a condition to approval tenant must agree for the payment to be made directly to the landlord and the landlord must also agree to;

  • Participate via a signed agreement
  • Provide the tenant’s rent ledger or rental history
  • Forbear eviction proceedings (if applicable)
  • Dismiss any pending dispossessory case against the assisted tenant for the period covered by the grant (if applicable)
  • Waive any late fees incurred associated with the delinquent rent period covered by the grant


Rental assistance grants will be awarded on a first come, first served basis. All applications submitted that meet the eligibility requirements will be considered.

Click HERE to view the Frequently Asked Questions about the program. Additional questions? Email: CobbHomeSaver@homefreeusa.org.

Rental Assistance Grants

Rental assistance is available for Cobb County renters affected by Covid-19 after March 1st 2020, based on the renter’s circumstances and who meet the income limit guidelines (as outlined in the eligibility section below). Renters must have experienced a COVID-19 related involuntary financial hardship, resulting in reduced income due to a change in employment, medical hardship, death of a spouse in order to be eligible.

Eligibility will be verified via the submitted supporting documentation to include, but not limited to, pay-stubs, proof of unemployment/benefits, proof of medical hardship (if applicable), bank statements, copy of lease, and utility bills to confirm residency.

How the Cobb Home Saver Rental Assistance Program can assist you:

For the renters in Cobb County who have fallen behind in their payments due to job loss or loss of income related to COVID-19 related rental payment assistance – up to $4,800 will be available if approved.

How to Apply

A request for rental assistance may be submitted by either the tenant or the landlord on behalf of that eligible tenant. If the request is by the landlord, the tenant must work directly with service provider to complete and sign the application.

Step 1

Before submitting your application, gather the following documents and information and confirm eligibility.

  • Documentation to support reduction in household income due to Covid-19. (Acceptable documentation includes Termination Notice, Payroll Check or Pay Stubs, Bank Statements, Medical Bills, Signed Letter from Employer explaining applicants changed financial circumstances, Unemployment Award Letter)
  • Proof of household income. (For determining annual household income, a wage statements, interest statements, pay-stubs, or unemployment compensation statements reflecting annual income for the household or a copy of the Form 1040 filed with the IRS for 2020 may be used)
  • Copy of signed lease and unpaid utility bills (if seeking assistance for such). (In the absence of a lease, evidence of amount of rental payment may include bank statements, check stubs, or other documentation that reasonably establishes a pattern of paying rent or a written attestation by a landlord who can be verified as the legitimate owner or management agent.)

Step 2

Applications may be submitted by clicking the “apply here” button below.

For a faster response in processing, it is vital for applicants to submit all the required documentation to ensure a complete application submittal.

Click here to view the Frequently Asked Questions about the program. Additional questions can be emailed to: cobbcountryera@homefreeusa.org.

Note: All correspondence will be to the email used to submit application, so be sure to use your email address for privacy, protection, and correspondence.

Step 3

Submit your supporting documents within 48 hours.

You will have the option to submit the remainder of your documents via fax, email, or the secured portal provided to you on the instructions that you will receive. The additional documentation required to fully complete your application is outlined below;

Documents that will be needed to complete your application:

  • Signed copy of lease (with signature pages) and any lease modifications if applicable
  • Proof of reduction in income (pay stubs, copy of unemployment benefits)
  • Copy of most recent utility bill with renter’s name and matching property address
  • Copy of two most recent bank statements (all pages) for all tenants listed on the lease
  • Copy of W-2’s and 1099’s (for all renters listed on the lease)
  • Copy of rent ledger or proof of rental history
Once the application and all documents have been submitted, HomeFree-USA will review your application to ensure eligibility. Based on review, HomeFree-USA will determine which applicants are eligible to receive grants and the amount. An advisor will contact you within 7-days of applying to inform you of your status and to discuss next-steps (if applicable).

About
HomeFree-USA

HomeFree-USA is a leading nonprofit homeownership development and financial empowerment organization. Over its 25 year history HomeFree-USA has produced more than 10,000 first time homebuyers and renters.

“During this unprecedented time, too many people are struggling financially and facing housing instability. HomeFree-USA is honored to work with Cobb County homeowners and renters to help them stabilize their housing needs now and put them on a path to ongoing homeownership success.”Marcia Griffin, President and CEO of HomeFree-USA

As a HUD intermediary, HomeFree-USA oversees a nationwide network of 53 community and faith-based nonprofit homeownership development agencies. Learn more at HomeFreeUSA.org.

Application Resources

Play Video

Application
Resources

Need help completing your application?

Watch the playback of the
information webinar.

Frequently Asked Questions

A renter residing in Cobb County in which at least one or more individuals in the household meets the following criteria:

  • Qualifies for unemployment or has experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19;
  • Demonstrates a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability; and
  • Has a household income at or below 80 percent of the area median income level.
Yes, the household* must have income equal to or less than 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI) for Cobb County. Income caps are as follows:
  • Household of 1 – $46,350
  • Household of 2 – $52,950
  • Household of 3 – $59,550
  • Household of 4 – $66,150
  • Household of 5 – $71,450
  • Household of 6 – $76,750
  • Household of 7 – $82,050
  • Household of 8 – $87,350
*A “household” includes all people living at the same residence, regardless of legal or familial relationship.
If an adult is living in leased property in Cobb County and faces the possibility of eviction, they should apply using the Tenant Application. They will be eligible if they meet the financial and other requirements for an eligible household.
No. This program is for rental assistance only. Mortgage assistance is available by clicking the homeowners tab which can be found on the home page at cobbhomesaver.org

No. Only one application per household is necessary. Applications should list all members living in the household.

No. Qualified households must work directly with ONE of the five Service Providers in Cobb County assisting with distribution of ERA funds.

A landlord can begin an application process on behalf of a tenant, but the tenant will be responsible for providing the necessary documentation to complete an application and will need to work directly with the Service Provider.
  • Applicant’s Photo ID – driver’s license, state-issued ID, or government-issued ID
  • Social Security number for all members of the household. If household members do not have a Social Security number, they may provide their Passport or Consulate ID number
  • Proof of earned income (gross-pre-tax) for each household member 18 and older
  • Proof of unearned income for each household member 18 and older – including unemployment, social security, child support, SSI, retirement, worker’s compensation, TANF
  • Current Lease in the applicant’s name
  • Current Tenant Ledger or Account Statement
  • Proof of COVID Hardship
  • Current and/or Past Due Rent and/or Utility Bill (if requesting support for utilities) – name and address on utility bill/statement must match the name and address of applicant
The federal government’s Treasury Department requires certain information and documentation to show that Cobb County has properly used the funds in this program, including but not limited to income information, social security numbers, and/or other information and documents. All of the information gathered may be delivered to the Treasury Department by Cobb County to facilitate proper tracking of Cobb County’s use of funds. If you fail to provide your social security number or any other required information and/or documentation, the application cannot be processed.
Cobb County must report information about participants in this assistance program, including the gender, race, and ethnicity of the primary applicant.
You are a tenant for purposes of this application, and you may submit an application. However, you may be required to provide other evidence of the landlord/tenant relationship, such as proof of prior payment.

Your household income can be determined by either:

  • The total adjusted gross income of your household for calendar year 2020. You will need to provide documentation of your adjusted gross income through income tax forms or your 2020 W-2’s. This includes earned and unearned income for every person in the household over the age of 18.
  • Sufficient confirmation of monthly income at the time of application. You will need to provide income documentation for the two most recent months. This includes earned and unearned income for every person in the household over the age of 18.

You must submit documentation that supports your statement that economic hardship is due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This could include:

  • Unemployment Benefit Determination (after 3/13/2020)
  • Unemployment Benefit statement dated within 30 days of signed application
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Notice (start date after 3/13/2020)
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) Notice (start date after 3/13/2020)
  • Separation Notice after 3/13/20 (lack of work due to COVID)
  • Furlough letter referencing COVID
  • Employer layoff/termination letter referencing COVID
  • Employer letter of lost wages or hour reduction due to COVID
  • COVID Emergency Family Medical Leave determination
  • Medical notice of COVID risk due to underlying condition that impacts your ability to work
  • Childcare closure/virtual school notice for current semester ALONG WITH an employer letter of hour reduction, separation, or termination due to childcare
  • Bank Statements (for self-employed applicants ONLY) that demonstrate income prior to AND after COVID; must also include a written explanation of how statements demonstrate COVID related impact to income.
For the application, the term “past due rent” includes all monies due under the Lease for rent including any utilities such as electric, water and natural gas that are provided by the Landlord, when it is included in the “rent” and is charged to the tenant. It does NOT include internet charges, phone service or cable fees, even if provided by the Landlord. No amount due on or before March 31, 2020 is eligible to be covered and will not be considered.
You should contact the Property Manager, Landlord, or other person who collects your rent and ask them how much is owed on your account. If you are not able to get into contact with the Landlord to determine the amount, use your best judgment to estimate the amount owed on the application. During the application process the amount owed will be verified with the Landlord and adjusted if necessary.
You may not be able to successfully complete the application and qualify for assistance. Your application must include the income and personal demographic information required.
Households are eligible for a maximum of up to 12 months of assistance with past due rent. You can apply for any arrears that occurred after March 31, 2020. Applicants are NOT guaranteed a full 12 months of assistance. Amount of assistance provided is dependent on individual qualifications and availability of funds. If a renter has previously received assistance through the CARES Act funds, those payments will be included towards the 12 month maximum.
If a renter has previously received assistance through the CARES Act funds, they must apply to that SAME Service Provider that previously serviced them for additional assistance through ERA. Payments from CARES Act Funds will be included towards the 12-month maximum under the ERA guidelines.
No. Payments will be made directly to property management companies, leasing offices, landlords and utility companies only. Proof of payment will be provided to applicants.
No. This is not a loan. ERA payments are considered a grant and will not have to be paid back. However, if we discover that a recipient has falsified documents and has somehow defrauded the program, the money will need to be repaid.
Yes, utilities such as electric, water and natural gas may be covered in this program where the tenant pays them directly to the utility provider or to the landlord. It does NOT include internet charges, phone service or cable fees. The applicant should specify the request for assistance with these utilities in the space provided on the application.
In the event you do not know the actual name of the new owner, first contact your Property Manager and ask. If you are unable to get a response, fill out the application using the name for the Landlord that is on your Lease or the name of the company or person to whom you paid your rent the last time you paid rent.
Place on the application the last known contact information you have for the Landlord/Property Manager.
Unfortunately, no. The Service Provider will contact your landlord and/or utility company and explain how the program works. Your landlord and/or utility company will need to decide to accept this rental assistance payment and sign some forms. The service provider cannot force your landlord and/or utility company to participate. If your landlord and/or utility company decides not to agree to participate, the service provider will have to deny your application. The Service Provider will notify you if that happens.
Applications will be considered until such time as all monies are exhausted. You are encouraged to apply as soon as possible so that your application may be considered.
You will receive additional information from the Service Provider regarding your application.

The service providers for Cobb County are:

  • HomeFree, USA
  • MUST Ministries
  • Star-C
  • Sweetwater Mission
  • The Center for Family Resources

If your application has been submitted to HomeFree-USA and have further questions regarding your application, you may contact us directly by dialing 855-493-4002 or by sending an email to: cobbcountyera@homefreeusa.org.

Important Note: This program is funded through the CARES Act and the use of any funds received are strictly limited to rental assistance. All payments will be made directly to landlord on the tenant’s behalf and not to tenant themselves. Recipients and the landlord will be required to sign a memorandum of understanding with HomeFree-USA to ensure agreement, accountability of funds and services provided. HomeFree-USA is an independent agent of Cobb County.

Copyright © 2020. Cobb County HomeSaver Program.

Due to the overwhelming number of applications eligible for grant consideration and limited funding, we have temporarily suspended application acceptance. However, should additional funds become available we will accept applications.


Please feel free to continue to check the site for future consideration. If your application has already been submitted, we will contact you at the email address provided on your application submission regarding an update.