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Wyoming pandemic rental assistance program closes new applications

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The Ada apartments in downtown Casper are coated in snow in April 2020.

The Department of Family Services has officially stopped accepting new applications for the federally funded Emergency Rental Assistance Program.

The program, sometimes known as ERAP, was created to keep renters housed during the coronavirus pandemic. The program’s supported more than 14,000 households across the state since its launch in April 2021, according to the Department of Family Services’ website.

The average long-term U.S. mortgage rate tumbled by nearly a half-point this week, but will likely remain a significant barrier for potential homebuyers as Federal Reserve officials have all but promised more rate hikes in the coming months. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average on the key 30-year rate fell to 6.61% from 7.08% last week. 

Between Sept. 1 and Wednesday, 10,700 households were actively receiving ERAP money, Rachel Girt, a contracted spokesperson for the agency, said in an email.

As of Thursday, the program had given out a total of $69 million in assistance. About $54 million of that went to landlords, $11 million to renters, $3.9 million to utilities companies and another $31,000 to reimburse moving costs.

The looming deadline coincided with a sharp spike in applications. On Nov. 10, the last day to apply, the Department of Family Services received a record 538 submissions. Before that, the most applications the agency had received in a day was 373, Girt said in the email.

According to Girt, the program has roughly $34 million left in federal money available. The Department of Family Services expects that funding to dry up in early spring of next year, she said.

The agency made the decision to stop accepting new ERAP applications as a way to scale down its services as the program nears its end.

“We don’t want to crash the plane,” Korin Schmdit, director of the Department of Family Services, told the Star-Tribune in October. “What we would rather do is start to slowly land it.”

The agency could receive more money from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, which could keep ERAP money flowing for longer. But the Department of Family Services likely won’t know what the Treasury decides until next year.

Groups prepare as clock ticks down on new pandemic rental relief applications

Should the agency get more money, it’ll reevaluate whether to open applications again (or to introduce any other changes).

Current recipients can still apply for extensions, granted they haven’t used up their 18 months of eligibility. Clients of the program get up to a year-and-a-half of rental assistance, but can only be approved for three months at a time. Because ERAP is tied to your current address, any current clients will no longer be able to receive assistance if they move.

The agency also stopped taking applications for its “letter-of-intent” program, which pre-approves homeless people for ERAP assistance.

Anyone who’s already received a letter of intent from the Department of Family Services can still use it until the letter expires.

Other parts of the ERAP — like local case management services, which can help people with a number of housing-related needs — will still be available through June. Visit the Department of Family Services’ website at for more information.


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