Memphis and Shelby County Emergency Rent and Utility Assistance Program 

March 1, 2021

Program Overview

The U.S. Department of Treasury has granted a total of $28.2 million to the City of Memphis and Shelby County (including 19.6 million to the City and 8.6 to the County) to administer the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program. The program will provide Shelby County residents direct financial assistance in the form of  emergency rent and utility relief.  Funding for the program expires December 31, 2021.

How will the funds be administered?

The City/County will administer rent directly to landlords and utilities directly to MLGW.

Who is eligible?

Households must:

  1. Be residents of Shelby County, TN
    1. This includes Memphis, Arlington, Bartlett, Collierville, Germantown, Lakeland and Millington, TN
  2. Earn less than 80% of the Area Median Income AND one of the following:
    1. Contain one or more individuals who has either qualified for unemployment benefits OR experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID–19) outbreak (applicant must put this in writing) OR
    2. Contain one or more individuals who can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability, which may include a past due utility or rent notice or eviction notice, unsafe or unhealthy living conditions, or other evidence.


Applicants will visit or text home901 to 21000 or, for Spanish, text casa901 to 21000.   Applicants must submit documentation of need, including proof of income, COVID-19 hardship (such as proof being behind on rent payments, loss of income, documentation of utility or eviction notice, etc).

Can I complete and submit the application on my own?

Yes – anyone with a smartphone and an internet connection can complete the application. 

What if I need help completing my application?

Call 211 for information about office hours at a location near you.  Team members will be available to walk you through the application or to provide assistance with completing the application, including scanning and uploading required documents.

What is the selection process?

A weighted equitable selection process will prioritize at-risk tenants and assure an equitable distribution of resources. Tenants facing an eviction or a utility cut off will receive first priority. A rolling, random selection process will promote equality and access to resources for as many people as possible.

How do I know if I have been selected?

Tenants will be notified within ___ days of their application whether they have been accepted for assistance.  Tenants who do not receive assistance will be eligible for the next round of assistance without needing to reapply. 

What happens if I’m selected?

Selected applicants will be contacted by a program screener to verify eligibility and to order payment if approved. Payments will be made directly to MLGW or to landlords.  No payments will be made to individual applicants.

What happens if I’m not selected? Do I need to reapply?

Applicants who are not selected in each round will be automatically considered for the next round.  Applicants will not be able to apply more than one time.

How much funding could I receive?

Funding is determined based upon need . 

If I’m selected, how long will it take for my landlord and/or MLGW to receive a payment?

Payments will be processed within 14 business days of selection. 

If I’m not selected, when will the next selection opportunity occur?

There will be multiple rounds for this program.  Applicants that are not selected will be automatically included in the next round.  The applicant does not need to apply again.

What if I’m facing an eviction?

Approved applicants facing eviction will be prioritized for relief and paired with free legal assistance. Lawyers will attempt to settle rental arrearages on behalf of eligible applicants. 

What is the process for applying as a landlord?

Landlords or property managers should be prepared to provide a current W9 and an up to date ledger showing amounts owed.  Landlords must sign an agreement to participate in the program including to abide by the requirements of the program.  Visit and select “Submit Landlord Information ” or text landlord to 21000 to complete the form.

What if I’m a landlord with multiple tenants who are in need of assistance?

You should send an email to with the following information:  Total number of residents in arrears greater than $100,  Total amount those residents are delinquent in rentnumber of those residents in bankruptcy, number of those residents facing eviction, and number of those residents who have submitted a CDC Declaration. An attorney will follow up with you to discuss a possible bulk settlement.

Is it possible to receive future rent through the program?

Yes. Among tenants who receive assistance, some may be selected to receive up to three months of future rental assistance. The weighted selection process will equitably select a pool of recipients of future rent. Not everyone will receive future rent.

What conditions are required of landlords who accept payments?

As a condition for receiving rental payments, landlords must agree in writing not to evict their tenant based upon the past due rent that is being paid by the program.  Landlords must also agree to inspections of the unit covered by the program.  Landlords who agree to receive future rent payments cannot file evictions during the period in which they receive future rent.  Other details and the form agreement is available at at the “Landlord Information ” link.

How will the City/County learn from the impact of the program?

The City of Memphis and Shelby County are conducting a careful evaluation of the program to follow the impact of providing rent and utility relief. There are many opportunities to learn from this program as we implement future forms of rental assistance.

Who are the current partners assisting the City and County with this program?

Shelby County Division of Community Services, City of Memphis Division of Housing and Community Development, Neighborhood Preservation, Inc., the University of Memphis Law School Legal Clinic, Memphis Area Legal Services, Metropolitan Interfaith Association (MIFA), United Housing, Inc., United Way of the Mid-South, Innovate Memphis, and United States Digital Response (USDR).