Rental assistance program expands again to assist tenants and landlords

King County’s Eviction Prevention and Rent Assistance Program (EPRAP) continues to identify and implement ways to accelerate payments and to streamline and shorten the process for approving applications for rent assistance for tenants throughout the region who have fallen behind due to COVID-related economic hardships, such as illness or unemployment.

This blog describes King County’s work this week:

  • added two new staff teams to support and accelerate the EPRAP program
  • hosted recent and forthcoming webinars to provide real-time updates and information about the program for EPRAP participants
  • updates this week’s rent assistance payment totals
  • describes progress of the new landlord advance payment program
  • confirms King County’s new contract with the Housing Justice Project (HJP) that allocates up to $24M for HJP’s use in paying rent for EPRAP-eligible households whose case may face an eviction while awaiting their rent application to be processed.

New Teams/Webinars: Troubleshooting Questions About the New Procedures

Ten new staff joined the EPRAP team this week and have been quickly trained to help both tenants and landlords understand improvements recently made to the program. The improvements, designed to hasten approval and payment, are enabled by federal revisions to the requirements for documentation and payment approval. King County is also adding another new team made up of reassigned Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS) staff who will be trained this week and join the EPRAP team to process additional tenant applications.  These new teams will assist landlords and tenants in completing applications to take full advantage of new program changes that allow landlords and tenants to self-attest to critical eligibility information.  As of this week, all tenants in the EPRAP tenant program have been sent a simplified self-attestation form.

In addition to adding new teams to speed application processing, King County also hosted a well-attended landlord webinar last week to clarify the simplified process for self-attesting critical information – and making sure participants in the program knew where to access the new forms. Nearly an hour was available for Q&A with landlords and EPRAP staff.  Another help session for landlords took place today and another is scheduled for 9/14/21 via Zoom. EPRAP staff has also implemented a weekly Zoom Q&A on Fridays at 10 a.m. for landlords participating in the Large Landlord Program.  These sessions respond to feedback seeking increased communication about the EPRAP program.

This week’s updated total for rent assistance

This week’s updated total for rent assistance paid since January 2021 as of 9 a.m. on September 13 is now $29,936,358 in funds to support local residents to stay in their homes.

Number of Households Currently in the Program: There are currently18,781 households that have applied for rental assistance through EPRAP. Of these:

  • 4,732 households are currently working with a community-based organization to receive rental assistance.
  • 1,057 households have been paid since mid-July to today.

All Enrolled Large Landlord Program Participants Are Eligible for Advance Payments

As announced earlier this month, the County is allowing all landlords signed up for the King County Large Landlord EPRAP to receive up to 50 percent of the rental delinquency due upfront. The County will still screen properties in the tier order, but properties who receive an advance will be prioritized within the tiers for processing. The opportunity for advancements of rental arrears will end once there have been $50 million in advancements processed although King County may increase the amount available for advances if demand is high.  More details about the rental advancement program is available here.

Large Landlord Accounts Receiving Advanced Funds:

  • By 2:30 pm on 9/10/21, all 351 large landlord accounts had been offered advance funds.
  • Through 9/10/21, 23 large landlord accounts have received advanced funds. Additional landlord advance requests are being processed this week.

New Eviction Prevention Contract Beginning

King County has negotiated a new contract with the Housing Justice Project to expand our eviction prevention capacity. The $24 million contract will make it possible for the Housing Justice Project to intervene and assist eligible tenants brought into the eviction process who could not be helped through EPRAP. While EPRAP seeks to prevent households from going to court for eviction, this new arm of the program will seek to help those who do become involved in the court process and work to negotiate payment to address the arrears and keep the individual or family housed.

King County is committed to working with local property owners and community-based organizations to process payments and prevent eviction for thousands of households throughout King County who are at risk of homelessness due to the impacts of COVID. We will keep you updated via this blog!