[SEATTLE, Wash] – The situation for landlords and renters have become cloudy again as COVID cases start to grow. Another crisis is looming that we wrote about in December as multiple federal aid programs are coming to an end in the next 45 to 90 days. The economic downturn brought on by the lingering pandemic has left tens of thousands of individuals and families unable to pay rent or cover mortgages and taxes on rental property and are living on the brink of homelessness.
To meet as much of this need as possible, King County is administering a 2021 Eviction Prevention and Rent Assistance Program (EPRAP) to pay back rent and keep thousands of households safe and stable in their homes.
A total of $145 million is available to assist households in need and on July 16, King County announced that $4.3 million had been distributed. To be eligible, a renter must:
- Be a resident of King County
- Have a lease or proof of regular rental payments
- Have a household income at or below 50 percent of the Average Median Income
- Have experienced financial hardship due to COVID-19.
The program also had funds allocated to support landlords. Applicants have exhausted those funds. The program was designed to pay not only all rent unpaid as far back as January, but additionally, pay up to three months in advance with a maximum of 12 months of back and front rent paid.
The program was built on the foundations of the 2020 EPRAP response, which assisted 9,073 households and distributed $47.6 million. A smaller program has continued operating this year and since February 2021 has spent $16.5 million to keep 1,500 households stable as the larger 2021 program comes online.
A lesson learned from 2020, was to create a hub and spoke model to make funds more readily accessible. Designed with input from the community, the new Hub and Spoke program will offer another path into rental assistance by empowering community-based agencies to enroll individuals and families they already serve in their community into EPRAP. Organizations such as 4 Tomorrow are supporting the community in English and Spanish by phone and through its website.
King County residents who need rent assistance can contact the King County Eviction Prevention and Rental Assistance Program by going to the Tenant Portal. Assistance in 29 languages is also available from the main page.
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