RentReliefRI assistance program reaches $100M distribution milestone

PROVIDENCE – The state’s RentReliefRI program has surpassed $100 million in rental and utility assistance distributed to Rhode Islanders in need who have been impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to state officials.

Gov. Daniel J. McKee and R.I. Housing and Mortgage Finance Corp. announced Friday that the funds have been distributed to 13,761 renter households across the state since the program launched in March 2021. The program, funded by the U.S. Treasury, provides financial assistance for up to 18 months to cover past rent and utility bills, current rent and certain other housing expenses, McKee and R.I. Housing said.

It’s a major milestone for the state considering that in June 2021, McKee said the state had only distributed just $1 million in rent and utility assistance through the program. Since then, McKee and R.I. Housing said, the state went from averaging $500,000 per week in approvals in June to $2 million per week by August. The state now averages $1 million in weekly approvals for rent and utility assistance.

“Reaching this important milestone has been no small feat,” McKee said in a statement Friday. “Together, we are committed to continuing our efforts to get these critically-needed funds into the hands of more Rhode Island renters with help of a strong team of community partners who have stepped up in a big way to make it happen.”

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McKee and R.I. Housing said that out of the $100 million in assistance that was approved, about $75 million helped with rent, $22 million was distributed for utility bills and $3 million helped cover security deposits and other housing-related costs. Each household received an average of $6,720 in assistance, McKee and R.I. Housing said.

Providence, Pawtucket, Woonsocket, Cranston, Central Falls, North Providence, West Warwick, Warwick, East Providence and Johnston were the top 10 Rhode Island municipalities that saw the most funding approved for RentReliefRI, according to the state.

R.I. Housing CEO and Executive Director Carol Ventura said in a statement that the organization is “grateful” that the state reached this nine-figure milestone and is committed to “helping even more hard-hit renter households overcome the financial impacts of the pandemic and stay in their homes.”

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at Bessette@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.

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