King County hopes a $41 million program to help renters and both large-scale and small, individual landlords can help stave off eviction for between 7,000 and 10,000 low income households during the COVID-19 crisis.
Executive Dow Constantine announced the rental assistance and eviction prevention proposal for “individual tenants, large and small property managers and landlords, and mobile home parks” Thursday and the county is taking feedback on the plan through the end of the month before rolling it out.
The county proposal includes four categories of funding to address “several approaches to serve as many households as possible, as quickly as possible” —
- Large Residential Property Fund ($17.9M)
To reach the largest number of low-income households as quickly as possible, nearly $18 million is dedicated to a fund that is available to larger residential property managers and landlords with multiple residents needing assistance. Efforts will focus on Low Income Tax Credit properties and properties in the zip codes with the highest unemployment and COVID-19 disease burdens.
- Individual Household/Small Landlord Fund ($10M)
Another fund focuses on assisting any individual household that meets the eligibility requirements. Due to expected high demand, tenant selection will occur via a weekly lottery. Potential recipients will submit a form to enter the lottery process, with the first tenants and landlords drawn on September 14, 2020 and weekly thereafter until all funds are spent. Community-based organizations will assist tenants with the application process, and other nonprofit organizations will provide the actual rental assistance.
- Manufactured Home Park Fund ($2M)
Specialized assistance and funding is dedicated to help manufactured home park residents, many of whom are Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, including approximately 70 percent Latinx. Similar to the Large Residential Property Fund, non-profit organizations administering the funds will work with park owners to assist households quickly. Community-based organizations will provide residents with language and other assistance, as needed.
- Eviction Prevention – United Way of King County ($5M)
Funding is allocated to United Way’s Rental Assistance Program to support households through UWKC’s Home Base program when the state-mandated Eviction Moratorium ends in mid-October, unless the moratorium is extended. If extended, the resources will be reallocated to support the other funds.
To be eligible for assistance, all tenants must have an income that is “at or below 50 percent of the Area Median Income over the past 60 days, and must be partially or fully behind at least one month of rent since March 1, 2020,” the county says. “Tenants must also meet one of several secondary criteria, such as having high rent burden, a history of homelessness or eviction, or a disability.”
Landlords requesting funding must agree to several restrictions:
If the tenant is more than three months in arrears, the landlord must agree to waive the additional rent owed, and must also agree not to raise rents, evict the tenant, or refuse to renew a tenancy other than for good cause before March 31, 2021. All landlords must agree to accept 80 percent of the rent or fair market rent, whichever is less, so that public funds can help more households. Community-based organizations have an opportunity to receive funding under this program to offer outreach and application assistance to potential recipients, and ensure culturally competent, accessible and in-language support to tenants and landlords through the application process.
The county also plans for most of the recipients of funding to be chosen via a lottery system “to ensure more applicants have an opportunity for assistance, rather than funding only those who happen to sign up first.
The funding can cover up to three months of rent.
So far through the COVID-19 crisis, commercial and residential restrictions at the state and local level of mostly staved off a predicted wave of evictions. Meanwhile, many smaller landlords across Capitol Hill have said they already faced enormous pressure to sell to larger developers and property management companies before the pandemic. The county’s new plan could help the area’s most at-risk tenants and landlords through the end of the year. It likely won’t be enough. The Stranger reports an industry survey showing more than 40,000 Seattle households can’t pay their next rent check.
The county is collecting feedback on the proposals and has posted “interest forms” for applicants here.
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