BOISE, Idaho — The City of Boise announced a new emergency rental assistance program for residents impacted by COVID-19 and is now urging residents to take advantage of it if they're in need of help.
The city received $11.5 million in grant funding from the US Department of Treasury as part of the second COVID-19 relief package.
The announcement comes after The New York Times published an article on a study from Apartment List that stated that the City of Boise had the largest increase in median rent over the last year. Median rent went up 12% from $931 in 2020 to $1,047 in 2021.
One Boise woman who reached out to KTVB regarding the rent increases said her mother is 90 years old and has lived in the same apartment for nine years and her rent will go up by $330 in March.
“There’s a lot of seniors and parents in that apartment complex, it just seems sort of unusual that it would go up so much in one year,” said Julie Bouchard, a Boise resident. “During the pandemic, it's really hard to go out and look for a place to live, my mom is 90 and it would be hard to change her living situation at this point.”
The new Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) can relieve some financial burdens for those who meet these requirements:
- A household must be a resident of Boise city or Ada County
- They must not have an income that exceeds the area median income
- Must have a COVID-19 related economic impact
- Must have a rental agreement/lease
”We have residents that are experiencing some significant housing insecurity you know before COVID-19 but certainly throughout COVID and because of COVID as well,” said Boise Senior Manager of Housing and Community Development Maureen Brewer.
Brewer said she hopes that residents take advantage of the program and that the city is in a unique moment where rental assistance can be given. Aid can be given on past rent payments, utilities, and future rents based on need.
Even though people like Bouchard and her mother haven’t been directly impacted by COVID-19 financially, the constant increase in rent isn't reassuring.
“It’s a bigger problem and it needs to be addressed. Yeah, my mom can afford it, but everybody around her can’t,” said Bouchard. “I feel like I need to advocate for everybody, not just me personally.”
Brewer is encouraging residents who may think they are eligible to still reach out.
“If you are experiencing housing insecurity, or trouble paying your rent, I would encourage you to reach out, we can be pretty liberal with what is considered a COVID-19 impact,” she said.
Brewer mentioned that this doesn’t mean the city has extreme flexibility but that the intent of the funding is to preserve housing.