New Rent Assistance Program from the Washington State Department of Commerce.

OLYMPIA, WA – The Washington State Department of Commerce is distributing approximately $100 million in state Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding through its existing network of homeless services grantees and organizations serving homeless youth to operate a new rent assistance program launched Aug. 1. The program will focus on preventing evictions by paying up to three months of past due, current and future rent to landlords for eligible participants.

“Funds addressing Washington’s homelessness crisis were limited before the pandemic, and the need is deepening as this pandemic continues to push more people toward the brink while we work to carefully reopen our economy,” said Commerce Director Lisa Brown. “We are targeting limited resources as quickly and equitably as possible, to those with the greatest needs.”

This rent assistance program will address some of the need resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, and hopes to reduce some of the stress both renters and landlords are facing now and in the future. Rent assistance is limited to three months and the program ends Dec. 31, 2020.

A survey recently showed 17% of renters in Washington state missed their July rent payment. Since February, state’s employment has declined 12% – over twice that of the worst point in the Great Recession – and use of basic food assistance programs has increased by 15%.

Commerce provided guidance and formula-based grant amounts to its Consolidated Homeless Grant program lead grantees and organizations serving the Office of Homeless Youth in every county of the state. These organizations will use grant funds to provide up to three months of rent assistance that will be paid to landlords on an eligible client’s behalf. Complete program information is on the Commerce web page.

Equity is a primary program goal, with a focus on groups of people who historically have not been provided equitable access to rent assistance and those who have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. These communities include ethnic and racial minorities, immigrants and refugees, individuals who identify as LGBTQ+, individuals with disabilities or who are deaf and Native Americans.

Funding is expected to begin making its way into communities late this week.

Published on 08/11/2020