King County’s Eviction Prevention and Rent Assistance Program (EPRAP) implemented several changes to the program last week that resulted in increased payments to tenants and landlords across King County.
Payments for the week ending Sept. 4, 2021 totaled $4,630,496. Since January 2021, EPRAP has paid a total of $27,230,496 in rental assistance funds to support local residents to stay in their homes.
Implementing key changes
Moving quickly to simplify the application and approval process for EPRAP, King County incorporated several changes in response to amended guidance received from the U.S. Department of Treasury. The following changes were made:
- Tenants may now self-attest to income, housing instability and financial impacts due to COVID-19.
- Landlords may now self-attest as to leases and ledgers to satisfy those requirements for each tenant and keep the approval process moving.
- EPRAP is now able to advance payments to property owners and landlords based on the estimated total amount due, paying up to 50 percent of the estimated bulk payment in anticipation of full satisfaction of the application requirements. After successfully testing the ability to make these advance payments, the program is broadening the process for advancing rental funds to landlords in Tier 1 and Tier 2.
King County recently increased staffing to support both landlords and tenants with these changes and is hosting a webinar this week to ensure landlords and property owners fully understand the amended procedures and can ask any questions they might have. The simplified requirements are also helping to reduce processing time for the new EPRAP data system.
Breaking down the year’s $27.2 million total, over $15.3 million has been paid directly to property owners on behalf of King County tenants from mid-July through August. This is in addition to $11.9 million expended from January-June.
Offering additional eviction prevention for tenants
King County wants to be sure every tenant eligible for EPRAP knows about the program and that their landlords have the opportunity to request payment through the program. Most important is to do all that we can to prevent households from falling into homelessness. To augment outreach efforts already underway through community-based organizations, King County is finalizing a contract with the Housing Justice Project to provide assistance to tenants who have been served with eviction notices once the moratoriums preventing eviction are lifted. The purpose of this contract is to allow the Housing Justice Project to pay rent for eligible tenants if the tenants have not yet been helped by other parts of the rental assistance program. The goal is to try to work with landlords and property owners on a resolution of the debt to keep the household safely housed. We will provide more detail on this effort in our next weekly blog.
Households throughout King County whose income is at or below 50% of the area median, and have fallen behind in rent due to unemployment, lost wages or health crises due to the COVID-19 pandemic are encouraged to apply.
King County remains grateful to the coalition of community-based organizations and property owners that are working together to prevent homelessness for tens of thousands of residents throughout the region who are at risk of eviction due to COVID-19 related financial hardships.
DCHS will publish a weekly update, sharing totals for rent assistance paid and important program updates in our blog.