Ahead of this week’s expiration of the federal eviction moratorium, the majority of the $200 million in emergency federal aid that Idaho directed toward tackling renters’ financial hardships related to the coronavirus pandemic is still available for qualifying households.
Tenants with past-due rent or utility bills may visit one of two places to see whether they’re eligible for up to 15 months in assistance money for their housing costs. If renters are facing eviction, or have already been forced from their permanent housing, they also may apply for funds to cover the price of a hotel while they search for their next lease.
For residents of Ada County, the Boise City/Ada County Housing Authorities is managing more than $24 million of the state’s overall assistance funds. Through last week, the agency had disbursed $8.4 million, with a September 2022 deadline to spend down the balance or return it to the federal government.
Qualifying residents include individuals making up to 80% of the area’s median income for the county. For individuals, that threshold is $42,200 in annual earnings and no more than $60,250 for families of four. Applicants must also be able to prove Idaho residency and an ability to show financial strain connected to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Residents of all other counties would apply through the Idaho Housing and Finance Association, which is overseeing nearly $176 million in emergency federal aid. The same eligibility requirements apply, and renters can review the agency’s income guidelines for each county to see if they qualify for the 80% area median income cap.
Through the middle of this month, the IHFA has disbursed about $9.4 million to more than 8,000 households, with the same September 2022 cutoff looming to expend the remaining $166 million for needy Idahoans. The state program has seen the greatest number of applications from North Idaho, including Coeur d’Alene, and the southwest portion of the state, including Canyon County, but welcomes applications from all reaches, said Brady Ellis, IHFA’s vice president of housing support programs.
“If we stayed at our current pace, we would not use the full allocation of funding,” Ellis told the Idaho Statesman in a phone interview. “So we do know there are people out there that for whatever unfortunate reason are not aware of this yet. We continue to look at our marketing to improve and change and expand what we’re doing there.”
There is no cap on the amount that can be paid out toward monthly rent and utility bills, plus some late fees, and funds may cover up to three months in upcoming bills. All payments are made directly to landlords or utility companies, and landlords also may apply on behalf of their tenants, with their approval. Homeowners behind on their monthly mortgage payments are not eligible for the housing relief program.
The state program has so far received about 50 applications per day, with most receiving initial review within five days and disbursement of approved funds about a week later, according to IHFA. Priority is granted to applicants at or below 50% of the area’s median income, or $37,650 for a family of four in the state’s highest-cost counties.
How to apply
To apply through the statewide program, visit: www.idahohousing.com/hpp.
Ada County residents can visit https://erap.bcacha.org to access the rental assistance program designated for the state’s most populous county.
Tenants in Ada and Canyon counties at immediate risk of losing their rental housing as the July 31 federal moratorium expiration approaches may also seek financial assistance from Jesse Tree of Idaho, an area nonprofit focused on homelessness prevention. The program is intended for low-income families also making no more than 80% of the area median income. Visit www.jessetreeidaho.org/apply for more information and to review eligibility requirements.
“We know that once people have lost their homes, it’s much more difficult for them to find a new place to live, especially if they have an eviction on their record,” state Sen. Ali Rabe, Jesse Tree’s executive director, told the Statesman. “We’ll pay back rent, late fees, legal fees, a month of rent going forward if a tenant can’t be housed, and even a security deposit. We’ll pay for whatever in court to keep someone housed.”