Spokane County Commissioners unanimously voted to award a $5.9 million contract for rental assistance to Spokane Neighborhood Action Partners on Tuesday to prevent evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The funds are meant to provide relief to those who have already missed payments or are struggling to pay their current rent due to the pandemic. Rental assistance through SNAP will be available to those who live in cities in the county, or the unincorporated area.
Tenants will be able to get up to three months of rental assistance through the program.
Director of Community Action for SNAP Carol Weltz said need for rental assistance has continued to grow during the pandemic.
“People are calling nonstop and need help,” she said.
She said it’s difficult to know how far the money will stretch before the end of the year because it’s tied to a time period instead of an amount. People who have missed rent between March 1 and now are eligible, as well as those worried they may not be able to pay their rent next month.
To be eligible for rental assistance, households must meet at least two of the following requirements: pay 50% or more of their income to rent; have previously been homeless in the last five years which can include living with another family; have been evicted in the last seven years; have had housing disrupted due to a member of the household’s race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation or religion; have a disability or be identified as high risk for COVID-19.
“This grant was really designed to help those who are disproportionately affected but don’t get help,” she said.
Those 24 or younger can also qualify if they are a parent or pregnant, if they have been in foster care, have been adopted, or have been in alcohol, drug or mental health treatment.
According to criteria provided by Weltz, people do not have to be United States Citizens to be eligible for the program.
She said people also need to earn less than 50% of the area median income in the last 60 days to qualify. She said if a person had a job before the pandemic, or over the summer, they’re still likely to qualify because SNAP will not look at income before the last two months for this program.
Funding for both programs is from the Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant Program. The funds were sent through the Washington State Department of Commerce, which awarded them to the county earlier this year.
Those who need rental assistance can contact SNAP at at 509-319-3035 or via email at CountyERAP@snapwa.org.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.