During the COVID-19 pandemic, Luminus received emergency state and federal funds to help families struggling to pay their rent. Over the 35 months the program was funded, Luminus distributed more than $2.6 million to help 398 families stay in their homes. Approximately 40% were immigrant families.
The Bonillas were one of those families. Emilio Bonilla* moved from El Salvador to Elkridge, Maryland with his wife and five children. In February of 2020, Bonilla was successfully working in maintenance. However, he was an hourly worker and not on the company’s payroll. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, there was little maintenance work available. As Bonilla’s hours dried up, it became increasingly difficult for him to pay rent. Soon, Bonilla found himself several months behind on rent.
At this point, a friend suggested that Bonilla reach out to Luminus for help. Thanks to funds from the Howard County Housing Development Office, the Maryland State Government, and the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Luminus was able to pay three months of overdue rent. Additionally, they covered Bonilla’s past-due utility bills. Through a translator, Bonilla said, “I was not getting paid in my job in maintenance, and Luminus’s rental assistance program allowed me to keep my home.”
Unfortunately, Bonilla’s job situation remained unpredictable and unreliable. A year after receiving assistance for the first time, Bonilla found himself needing to request assistance again. Once again, Luminus was able to help. For Bonilla, “The assistance was amazing. It helped me survive the pandemic in a home. Without it, I don’t know what I would have done.”
The Luminus team has successfully completed the emergency rental assistance program. After finalizing reports and tracking data, the positive, lasting impact of the program in supporting families rebuilding their lives is clear.
For Bonilla, it is impossible to overstate the impact Luminus’s rental assistance program had on his life. Bonilla was able to keep his family in their home, and he has been able to pay for his rent and utilities independently for the last two years. “I was not expecting to receive so much assistance, and now I will always be grateful for it.”
*names have been changed to protect client privacy