In this Nov. 7, 2017, file photo, a for rent sign hangs outside a Portland building. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

A new emergency rental assistance program designed to help Maine tenants has started accepting applications.

MaineHousing said the program launched on Monday. The agency is overseeing the program, which is funded by the federal coronavirus stimulus package that passed in December.

The stimulus package provided $200 million in rental assistance funding to the state, MaineHousing said. The agency said the program allows applicants to apply for rent and utilities owed back to March 13, 2020.

MaineHousing said it expects high demand at the beginning of the program. It’s asking tenants and landlords to communicate about the program in advance.

Maine tenants are in need of the assistance, said Daniel Brennan, the director of MaineHousing.

“We are all living under the direction to stay ‘safe at home.’ We need to make sure that every Mainer has a stable home for themselves and their families,” he said.