People who qualify can have up to three months in past, present, or future rent covered through the program
CLARK COUNTY — Clark County residents who are behind on their rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic may be able to have up to three months paid through a new program.
The Eviction Rent Assistance Program (ERAP) is a $5.5 million grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Treasury and administered through the Local Government Coronavirus Relief Fund through the Washington State Department of Commerce.
The funding is part of $100 million in rental assistance being distributed statewide.
Eligible households can receive up to three months of rental assistance through the program.
In order to qualify, residents must have an income equal to or less than 50 percent of the area’s median income, or $46,050 for a family of four. It is expected between 2,500 and 3,500 Clark County households could qualify for the assistance.
A release by Clark County Community Services notes that other qualifications may need to be met, though documentation of citizenship will not be required.
The funding will also be available for those living with friends or family, as well as renting space at an RV park.
“We hope that this will be able to facilitate many households to be able to stay in their home and not have to face eviction when this eviction moratorium is lifted,” said Kate Budd, executive director at Council for the Homeless, which is helping to facilitate distributions of the funds. “We know that even that enormous amount of money is not necessarily going to meet the full need in the community.”
A statewide moratorium on evictions is in place through Oct. 15, so few people can be kicked out simply for not paying rent during the pandemic. However, 17 percent of renters in Washington said they had missed payment of rent in July, according to the U.S. Census’ Pulse Survey.
The county will use the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) to prevent abuse by tracking who has already received services. Applicants will be required to provide proof of income level, as well as a notice of late payment.
Landlords will also need to verify late payment, and will be paid directly through the program.
People needing to access the program are encouraged to call the Council for the Homeless Housing Hotline at (360) 695-9677, for all languages from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays or Share at (360) 952-8317 ext. 387 in English or (360) 952-8318 ext. 386 in Spanish, Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Additional information can be found at CouncilForTheHomeless.org/ERAP.
Community Services says the funding will cover up to three months of past, present and future rent for qualifying families. Distribution of the funding will be based first on the level of need, the department said, and will be available until funding runs out.
Council for the Homeless is bringing in additional staff to field the expected call volume for the rental assistance, though the agency warns there could be significant delays in responding to calls. Ongoing issues with the United States Postal Service could also cause some slowdown in checks being sent to landlords, the county cautioned.