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Millions in rental assistance available to Ada County residents

$24 million in federal funds is available to help those struggling to pay rent due to the coronavirus pandemic.

BOISE, Idaho — From making ends meet to making rent, the pandemic has impacted so many people and their livelihoods. Now millions of dollars in rental assistance have landed on Idaho’s front doorstep.

The U.S. Treasury Department in December released $25 billion to provide emergency rental assistance and utility relief to renters who have been affected by the pandemic.

Idaho qualified for $200 million of those funds. Local governments with a population of 200,000 or more people were able to apply for their own allotment from that $200 million. 

Ada County and the city of Boise received $24 million dollars combined, according to Deanna Watson, executive director for the Boise City/Ada County Housing Authorities.

“This funding which can cover rental rearage, and going forward utility assistance, is a way to help people get stabilized and back on their feet so they can move forward again,” Watson said. “We just started taking applications but the stories we're hearing from people about why they're so thrilled to have this opportunity are in some cases almost lifesaving.”

Maigon Palmer understands that gratitude.

“I was behind in rent and I’ve got three kids and unfortunately when COVID happened, my daycare shut down, so I didn’t have someone to watch my kids and it affected my job,” Palmer said.

She found out Thursday that the $2,300 she owes in rent will be covered thanks to these new funds. She also won't have to worry about March, April or May.

“It's a huge relief,” Palmer said.

Watson told KTVB that the program doesn’t provide just one month's worth of rent. In fact, it can provide assistance for up to 12 months and in extenuating circumstances, even 15 months. 

Here are the criteria renters have to meet in order to get the funds:

  • Families need to be at or below 80% of the area median income.
  • Those households must have also lost employment or lost hours of employment because of COVID-19.
  • Assistance can also be given to those who have been out of work for at least 90 days.
  • The program especially would like to help those households that fall within the 50% or below median income.

“The reason this program exists is to help those who need it, and there should be no shame about it," Watson said. "We all are struggling in different ways."

She added that this is not just assistance for tenants, but it's also putting money back into the pockets of the landlords who haven’t been able to collect rent and are also struggling to pay their own bills. 

The housing authority has until the end of December to disburse the funds. You can apply for assistance here.

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