How struggling households can get federal rental assistance

FILE - In this Jan. 13, 2021 file photo, tenants' rights advocates demonstrate outside the Edward W. Brooke Courthouse in Boston.  An estimated 8.8 million Americans are behind on their rent, according the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. While relief efforts have staved off some of the housing crisis, rent is still going to come due. The federal government has approved two rounds of rental assistance, worth more than $46 billion total; the $21 billion in the second round will begin going out in May.   (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)
FILE - In this Jan. 13, 2021 file photo, tenants' rights advocates demonstrate outside the Edward W. Brooke Courthouse in Boston. An estimated 8.8 million Americans are behind on their rent, according the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. While relief efforts have staved off some of the housing crisis, rent is still going to come due. The federal government has approved two rounds of rental assistance, worth more than $46 billion total; the $21 billion in the second round will begin going out in May. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

An estimated 8.8 million Americans are behind on their rent, according the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. While relief efforts have staved off some of the housing crisis, rent is still going to come due.

The federal government has approved two rounds of rental assistance, worth more than $46 billion total, that is slowly making its way to renters.

Additionally, the federal eviction moratorium has been extended to the end of June. But avoiding eviction does not erase any rent owed. Estimates vary, but the Urban Institute said renters owe anywhere from $13.2 billion to $52.6 billion in back rent.

If you are struggling, here is what you should know about how to access this help:

WHAT'S AVAILABLE

Congress passed two different rental relief packages. The first, approved in December, provided $25 billion for rental relief. The second, approved in March, provides more than $21 billion.

In general the aid can help pay for back rent, next month's rent and some utility bills. Renters can get a year or more's help in getting caught up on back rent.

This is in addition to other programs out there on a local basis that may provide different forms of assistance. There has been some difficulty accessing certain programs but housing experts are hoping this latest round of federal relief specific to rental assistance will help more people.