Even as the number of new COVID cases in our region goes down, another crisis is looming. The economic downturn brought on by the lingering pandemic has left tens of thousands of individuals and families unable to pay rent and 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.
Rental assistance available for low-income tenants
Recognizing the urgency, King County is working as fast as possible to enroll and process applications in a new rental assistance program for 2021. A total of $145 million is available to assist households in need. 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.
Landlords participating in the program can recoup 100 percent of rent unpaid as far back as January, and the program will also pay three months in advance. Up to 12 months of rent may be paid.
The new program builds on lessons learned from 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.
Thousands of households are enrolling
King County opened enrollment on April 28, beginning with landlords with multiple properties and followed by individual tenant enrollment that opened on May 17. The staggered enrollment addresses one of the sticking points in the 2020 program – duplication of enrollments in both the landlord and tenant programs. With pre-enrollment of landlords, tenants who apply from a building already approved in the landlord pool will be considered with others in their building, leaving space available for another tenant name to be pulled and served. More than 2,600 properties have applied for tenant rent payments and more than 9,000 individuals have applied for assistance. Because many of the properties who have applied may have several or even dozens of eligible units within them, the total number of households within the EPRAP program will likely grow well beyond 20,000. County staff and community-based agencies are working now to process landlord and tenant applications and to provide information about the status of applications.
New: Hub and Spoke model
In addition to the landlord and tenant programs, a third service model opens Monday, June 21. Designed with input from 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. This is an important strategy to ensure that households who may not have ready access to an online portal can still receive EPRAP assistance.
Language access improved
The County has also worked to improve language access. The EPRAP website is available in English and Spanish. Fact sheets and information on accessing help for enrollment is available in 28 languages on both the EPRAP homepage and on the tenant application page.
For more information on the Eviction Prevention and Rent Assistance Program call 206-263-3481 or email DCHS Rental Assistance.
This project is being supported, in whole or in part, by federal award number SLFRP0152 awarded to King County by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.