Deadline draws near for those seeking housing aid through CARES Act

More than 3,500 South Dakotans have applied for housing assistance ahead of the Dec. 18 deadline.

File photo. Matt Gade / The Mitchell Republic

PIERRE — The deadline has arrived for those seeking relief for past-due rent, mortgage or utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state of South Dakota has allocated $10 million to the South Dakota Housing Development Authority for CARES Act funding to assist cash-strapped folks that are struggling to pay housing expenses or have overdue payments and late fees from March through December 2020.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moratorium on evictions expires Dec. 31 and applications are due Dec. 18 for funding of a maximum amount of $1,500 per month that would be paid directly to landlords, mortgage lenders or utility companies.

“The genesis of the program is to help people or prevent them from being evicted or having their home foreclosed on,” SDHDA Executive Director Mark Lauseng. “We can help them by helping with rent payments that haven’t been paid, mortgage payments that haven’t been paid or past-due utility bills.

Funds received for those deemed eligible will be based not only on back-due payments, but on personal income. For those seeking payment because of financial hardship related to COVID-19, a household must have an income at or below 115% of the alternative mortgage instrument. Unemployment benefits will be counted as household income, but aid received through stimulus checks are not.


For example, a one-person household making less than $62,675 per year is eligible. A two-person household to be eligible, the net income must be less than $71,530. A three-person household must be less than $80,500, a four-person household must be less than $89,470, a five-person household income must be less than $96,600, a six-person household must be less than $103,730, seven-person must be less than $110,975 and an eight-person household must be less than $118,105.

Eligibility is available for those that are at risk to losing housing or have already lost a home due to circumstances related to COVID-19. People that are homeless and do not have a nighttime living space are not eligible, according to the SDHDA and must apply for alternative assistance programs.

Lauseng says that 3,500 people have applied and estimated 3,000 would apply when the program was announced. Nearly 5.9 million people filed for unemployment insurance on Nov. 14, according to the United States Department of Labor, but Gov. Kristi Noem announced on social media Thursday that South Dakota’s unemployment was 3.5%, compared to 3.4% in November 2019.

According to the United States Census Bureau, 12.4 million people claim to be behind on rent, while 30-40 million people are projected to be evicted in January. Meanwhile, a proposed $908 billion stimulus package that would pay four more months of jobless benefits is still being batted around the Senate.

“I think the federal unemployment amount would keep people afloat for a few months, but that did end in July or August,” Lauseng said. “So, I thought there might be more that could use assistance in the later months.”

The deadline for submitted applications will be 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 18 and the system will be shut down at midnight, allowing no late exceptions. The SDHDA must then work to approve applications by CARES Act deadline on Dec. 30. Any funds not used will likely be returned to the federal government unless that state can find another purpose before the deadline.

“It takes a lot of time to go through an application,” Lauseng said. “A lot of times it takes follow -up for additional documentation or to verify with an employer or to get a landlord’s correct information — each application is quite timely. It’s not like you just say, ‘Here, I want this amount,’ and you pay the landlord.”

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