Iowans who are struggling to pay their rent could qualify help under a new program launched Wednesday. The effort, called Iowa Rental Help, is being financed by $11-million in federal funding. Ashley Jared is a spokesperson for the Iowa Finance Authority, the state agency administering the program.

“Basically, Iowa Rental Help can provide qualified Iowa renters with rent and utilities payments for a total of 18 months,” Jared said. “In addition to renters, the program can also help homeless individuals and families as well as current homeowners who need to get out of their homes and move into a rental.”

An individual or family can qualify for help if they earn less than half of their area’s median income. The assistance can include budget counseling, moving and storage cost assistance and help with security deposits. Jared believes the program could help ease overcrowding in homeless shelters.

“One of the goals of Iowa Rental Help is to get people out of homeless shelters and into permanent housing,” Jared said. Property managers and community service providers are also encouraged to get involved in the program. Jared says all the information they need is on the program’s website,

“They can download or order brochures to have available to their tenants. All payments from Iowa Rental Help are directly to the landlord, so it’s definitely a benefit for them to know about the service – as well as to their tenants to help them in a time of need,” Jared said. In addition to the website, Iowans can learn more about the program by calling (877) 386-9104 of texting ‘RENT’ to 30644.