Phoenix Launches $ 51M Rental / Utility Program | news
ON A $ 51.1 million city-wide rescue plan is underway to help rent and supply thousands of Phoenix residents.
Starting March 8th, Ahwatukee landlords and tenants can apply for up to 15 months of assistance to pay off rent and / or utilities 12 months overdue. You can also request pending payments for three months.
“I’m proud of [Phoenix] Mayor Kate Gallego said in a tweet after the council unanimously voted for the aid package last week. “By approving $ 51 million for rental and utility services, we’re giving our residents both financial and emotional relief when they need it most.”
The relief comes from a $ 25 billion national emergency aid program that Congress launched in January to help people struggling with rising household bills due to the pandemic.
The Arizona Department of Economic Security received approximately $ 492 million and is working with local governments to disburse aid nationwide, according to Governor Doug Ducey.
“We want to make sure Arizona tenants have the resources and support they need,” Ducey said in a press release. “The rental assistance program will keep families and those in need in their homes and help them get back on their feet as we overcome the effects of the pandemic.”
Phoenix’s Deputy City Administrator Ingar Erickson said the city provided $ 29.2 million in rental and mortgage assistance to over 5,700 households in Phoenix in 2020 as part of its Coronavirus Relief Fund program.
Unlike last year’s relief, the new plan doesn’t provide assistance with mortgage payments, and applicants must meet strict income requirements to qualify for the rental and utility allowance.
The program will now prioritize Phoenix residents who have been unemployed for more than 90 days and who earn at least 50 percent of the area’s median income – the center of a region’s income distribution.
For example, 50 percent of the median area income of a family of four in Phoenix is $ 38,900 per year.
The program also provides assistance to residents with or below 80 percent of the area median income, which is $ 62,250 for a family of four.
All applicants must provide evidence of a loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Payments are made directly to the landlord or utility company on behalf of the tenant.
The Phoenix Human Services division will work with Wildfire, a local nonprofit fighting poverty, to provide residents with personal and online rental assistance.
About half, or $ 26.1 million, will be paid out through the Human Services division and the remaining $ 25 million will go through Wildfire to provide rental support services through the network of nonprofits.
Ten percent of the funds flow into the city’s administrative costs.
City and community administrators are focused on improving communications with the community and expanding access to financial services for those in need, said Cynthia Zwick, Wildfire’s executive director, at the meeting on Tuesday.
“What we’re seeing this time, and what we’ve learned from the last program we managed, is that applicants have problems and continue to have problems,” said Zwick. “They will apply in as many places as possible, as often as they can, until they feel they are getting the support they need.”
Three service centers are available for personal support for people with limited Internet access.
They are: Sunnyslope Family Services Center, 914 W. Hatcher Road; John F. Long Family Service Center at Maryvale, 3454 N. 51st Ave; and Travis L. Williams Family Services Center, located south of Phoenix at 4732 S. Central Ave.
The services will be available in English and Spanish, along with translation options for other spoken languages, and requests can be made through an existing central admission line at 602-534-2433.
“We know the people in our community are suffering, we know the people are in need, we don’t know how many, but we know the people are in need,” said Erickson, adding that she and his department “extremely excited about the people opportunity to be the lifeline of these people.”