Eligible Fulton County households struggling with finances because of the pandemic can apply for rent and utilities assistance under a new program.

The COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which began accepting applications on March 1, offers up to $1,300 a month rental assistance and $200 a month for utilities. 

More than 6,800 Sandy Springs households met the priority qualifications for rental assistance based on their pre-pandemic income. (Sandy Springs)

City of Atlanta residents are not eligible because Atlanta received its own federal rental assistance funding. Residents of other parts of the county, including Sandy Springs, may be eligible.

The county will use $18 million in federal funding from the U.S. Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. Qualifying residents may apply for up to six months in assistance to cover rent, delinquent rent, past due gas, water and electrical utilities incurred because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eligible households must be at or below 80% of the area median income and meet other criteria. Fulton County will prioritize applications for households at or below 50% of the area median income (AMI) level. 

More than 6,800 Sandy Springs households were below 50% of the AMI level and spent more than 30% of their income on rent, according to a U.S Census Bureau American Community Survey conducted from 2015-2019.

Applicants can visit fultoncountyga.gov/renthelp to access the application. They also can contact the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Call Center at 833-716-2223 to speak to a live agent on weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m. to noon.

Applications can also be dropped off at the Fulton County Government Center, Information Desk, 141 Pryor Street SW, Atlanta, GA 30303.

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Rough Draft Atlanta and Reporter Newspapers.