City Allocates Nearly $4M in CARES Act Funds to Rental Assistance Programs
Seattle (May 11, 2020) – Mayor Jenny A. Durkan today announced the allocation of nearly $4 million in federal CARES Act Community Development Block Grant (CDBG-CV), Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG), Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) funding to provide rent support. The allocation of funds is the latest in a series of measures by the City aimed at keeping Seattle residents impacted by COVID-19 from losing their housing . The City will provide equitable access to rent assistance resources through community–based organizations with strong connections to diverse communities.
The funds were approved by City Council on Monday as part of a broader proposal to accept $14.1 million from the federal CARES Act. $12.7 million were approved by council and $4 million of those funds will provide rent assistance to families and individuals with unpaid rent due to COVID-19. The resources will be distributed four ways: $426,000 for housing assistance for people living with AIDS, $700,000 through the United Way Homebase Program, $1.45 million through the City’s Homelessness Prevention programs, and $1.4 million through affordable housing providers funded by the Seattle Office of Housing.
“Over the last ten weeks the City has acted with urgency to deliver resources to communities most at risk to the impacts of COVID-19. Housing assistance and rental relief will help keep people in their homes at this critical moment,” said Mayor Durkan. “We know that in order to meet the full scope of needs in our City and region, we need critical investments from the federal government, and I will continue to advocate for the resources we need to combat this virus and to rebuild. During this pandemic, it has also been critical to support programs who can quickly deliver with proven results. United Way is at the heart of our community to ensure that those who are the most vulnerable have the support they need.”
Demonstrating the great need for rent support in King County, the United Way received nearly 7,000 applications for rent assistance in the first 48 hours after the Homebase program opened for applications for assistance with April rent. Over 70 percent of the applications received were from community members of color. The $700,000 is in addition to city investment of $1 million made in April. The first round of funds had the capacity to serve only 2,000 households. Given that many eligible people were not served, this new investment of funds will be used to help Seattle renters who applied for the first round
“Helping people maintain their housing through rental assistance is a key component of our pandemic response,” said Gordon McHenry, Jr., president and CEO of United Way of King County. “We need to continue to raise funds for this effort to prevent people from becoming homeless.”
“The refugee and immigrant community in the CID have experienced immense job loss. The vulnerable seniors and low–income residents that are predominantly non English speaking lack capacity to navigate the complex systems due to linguistic and cultural barriers,” said Pradeepta Upadhyay, Executive Director of Interim CDA. “Interim CDA is a community–based grass roots organization which has served this community for over forty eight years. At this critical time, we have the required capacity to ensure that this community receives the service they need in order to keep them safe and protected in their homes.”
The Mayor has implemented a series of initiatives to help keep families, working, fed and in their homes throughout the pandemic:
- Extending the eviction moratorium through June 4, to align with Governor Inslee’s proclamation 20-19.1. This extension impacts residents, small businesses, and non-profits to provide relief for working people;
- Deferring utility payments for customers impacted by COVID-19;
- Providing 6,250 Seattle families and 1,800 workers with $800 in grocery vouchers; and
- Opening emergency child care classrooms to help hundreds of kids of essential workers.
- Creating temporary restaurant loading zones, to facilitate curbside pickup at restaurants;
- Announcing a small business relief package that included deferred business taxes and a $2.5M stabilization fund;
- Creating a new Arts Recovery Package to provide immediate financial relief to artists and cultural organizations that have been impacted by COVID-19;
- Providing rent relief to tenants of City-owned facilities;
- Partnering with United Way of King County and King County to invest $5 million in rental assistance to help families stay in their homes; and
- Launching the #SupportPugetSoundSmallBiz map to help residents find small businesses open for takeout and delivery in their neighborhood.
The City has also created a comprehensive resource page for residents and small businesses impacted by COVID-19. This page will be updated as more information becomes available.