How to Line Up Rent Aid — and a Backup Plan

Congress has appropriated more than $46 billion in emergency assistance to help cover back rent and utilities owed by struggling renters. But getting a share of that money isn’t automatic or guaranteed.

Not everyone who’s behind on their rent qualifies for help. In addition, some states and cities require more paperwork than others, which can make accessing the funds more difficult. Also, landlords and tenants typically must work together to apply for the aid, and some landlords are refusing to help.

For now, most renters are protected by various eviction bans — at national, state and sometimes local levels — but someday those will end. In the meantime, owing your landlord can lead to credit damage, collections calls and lawsuits. If you’re behind on your rent, you’d be smart to start exploring your options for dealing with this debt.

In my latest for Nerdwallet, how to work through the rent aid process and create a backup plan.