At a time when millions around the globe are looking at empty fridges and empty bank accounts with the rent already past due, an aid program to help local renters stay in their homes has been launched by the Williamstown Affordable Housing Trust.

The Emergency Rental Assistance Program will grant $500, or up to $1,000 for extreme cases, to people who earn 100 percent or less of the area median income, with households earning less than 80 percent of the AMI considered priority cases. Many locals are earning far less, considering the number of businesses that had to close down, at least temporarily.

Tom Sheldon, chairman of the Williamstown Affordable Housing Trust, said $18,000 allocated during town meeting last year will be awarded to applicants who qualify. About $2,000 will be paid to the Berkshire Housing Development Corp. to administer the program.

Officials are afraid the fund won't last long.

Read this story and others at The Berkshire Eagle now.