12,000 households saved from eviction with $63 million in rental assistance distributed by King County so far this year
King County continues to accelerate rental assistance payments, collaborating with local property owners and community-based partners to distribute $63 million so far this year and $100 million since the beginning of the pandemic providing housing stability to more than 12,000 households through the Eviction Prevention and Rent Assistance Program (EPRAP).
More than 12,000 households in King County are safe from evictions thanks to $63 million in rental assistance distributed by King County so far this year. Last week more than $8 million in payments were processed, including more than $2 million processed in a single day. Since the beginning of the pandemic King County has distributed more than $100 million in assistance to keep tenants housed.
Additionally, King County has invested $46 million in eviction prevention contracts, increased application processing capacity, community based outreach to ensure equitable access to the programs, and administrative costs. Based on current rates of expenditure and expected additional funding awards, King County estimates it has sufficient funds to support the program into early 2022.
“The pandemic’s unprecedented economic toll threatened thousands of our neighbors with eviction, but the hard work of our staff and community partners has kept more than 12,000 households in their homes,” said Executive Constantine. “Building a robust payment system took the work of many, and there has been no higher priority than keeping people in their homes as we built the equitable recovery King County residents deserve.”
12,000 households served so far in 2021
A total of 6,116 households have been supported through direct rent assistance payments to their landlords this year. In addition, after King County implemented changes allowed by the federal government, EPRAP is also able to advance payments to landlords with multiple properties, up to 50 percent of the total estimated amount due. A total of 6,643 households have been covered through these landlord advances, protecting those tenants from eviction while their applications are being processed.
Participating landlords may receive up to nine months of back rent and three months advance payment for every tenant who is eligible. Landlords agree to waive any additional back rent that may be owed, agree to assess no new late fees or additional changes during the months covered, and agree not to raise the rent for at least six months after the payment period ends. These stipulations do not eliminate the landlord’s right to evict tenants where just cause exists.
10,000 applications received in the last five weeks
To date, 33,935 tenants have expressed interest in the program, and as applications are processed, the EPRAP team has found about that about 67 percent of applicants are eligible for payment. Currently, 21,761 tenants have been selected for service and referred to a caseworker to process their application. The average amount of rental assistance is around $11,000 per household, slightly higher than King County’s initial estimates. Over the past five weeks as both the County and local partners have conducted outreach efforts, nearly 10,000 new households have applied to the program, indicating that need in the community remains high.
Major changes to program proving successful
In addition to allowing advance payments to landlords with multiple tenants in need of assistance, the federal government also simplified documentation requirements for the program nationwide, which King County moved to implement immediately. These included self-attestation for both landlords and tenants, which significantly reduced the complexity of applying for assistance and processing and approving payments. King County quadrupled county and contractor staff to work directly with tenants and landlords to boost outreach and one-on-one assistance and to offer training and technical assistance for all participants on the new procedures.
EPRAP is working closely with more than 40 contracted community-based organizations to help people complete their applications. Weekly increases in payments processed through EPRAP’s new data system directly reflect these efforts. EPRAP processed $41 million in payments over the last two months, compared to $22 million in payments in the first eight months of 2021. The new data system created expressly to support EPRAP is now fully functional. As required in Governor Jay Inslee’s Proclamation 21-09 issued earlier this year calling for the creation of rent assistance programs, King County has officially attested to having achieved a fully operational rental assistance program for our residents.
New eviction prevention contract activated
Paying rent assistance on behalf of eligible households is one piece of the effort to maintain housing stability in the continuing shadow of the pandemic and causes less trauma to families. The moratoria issued by local mayors and Governor Inslee barred eviction due to non-payment of rent. However, as those moratoria expire, more households are likely to become vulnerable. EPRAP includes an additional tool to prevent such evictions: Housing Justice Project and Dispute Resolution Centers intervention. King County is funding assistance, including free legal aid for low-income renters, negotiating with landlords, and representing renters at courthouse eviction hearings on the event an EPRAP-eligible tenant faces eviction for nonpayment of rent.
Enrollment is Open
Residents of King County whose income is at or below 50 percent of the area median income and have fallen behind in rent due to unemployment, lost wages, or health crises due to the COVID-19 pandemic are encouraged to apply. Tenants can apply online in English and Spanish at https://rent-help.kingcounty.gov. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 206-477-1331 for help, including in-language.
press 2 for Spanish or call 425-891-0346
press 3 for Dari or call 253-237-6701
press 4 for Somali and Amharic or call 206-721-5542
For all other languages, including Vietnamese, press 5, then state your language to the operator and they will connect you to a translator.
For more information visit the EPRAP web page.