Denver still has most of the rental assistance money it got from the federal government for people who need it
Denver City Council voted to give two local organizations more of the federal aid to make sure the money gets distributed.
City Housing Stability Director Melissa Thate said her office anticipated a spike in applications to its rental assistance program as the federal eviction moratorium neared its expiration, but that never really materialized.
It might have helped that days after it did expire, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended the moratorium again, this time for certain places, including Denver. The city’s program has been providing rental assistance sine mid-June, and so far, Thate said applications have been pretty consistent.
“I think we’re just continuing to encourage folks to apply for rental assistance if they need it, the sooner, the better obviously,” Thate said. “(We’re) very grateful for that extension of the CDC eviction moratorium, so that we can continue to get resources to residents who need them.”
On Monday, the Denver City Council approved adding $7 million to two existing contracts with Brothers Redevelopment and Northeast Denver Housing Center, organizations the city has contracted with to provide federal money the city got for rental assistance. The additional money means the two agencies will help connect residents with the rental assistance funds through September 2022.
The money for those two contracts comes from the nearly $50 million the city got in two chunks from the U.S. Department of Treasury this year to help people affected by the pandemic pay rent.
Including those two contracts means at least $17 million will be available in direct rental assistance from the first batch of federal money the city got, which totaled $21.8 million.
Only a fraction of the federal money has so far been used in direct rental assistance. Out of $1.6 million available from the initial two contracts the city gave to Brothers and Northeast — the ones council voted on Monday to add more money to — $1,055,038 in rental assistance money has been provided to 154 Denver households, according to the Department of Housing Stability spokesperson Derek Woodbury. After Monday’s decision, the contracts will now total $6 million with Northeast Denver Housing Center and $5 million with Brothers Redevelopment.
Thate said the amount of families that have been helped so far isn’t exactly the number the office had sought, though she said part of this may be due to the city, the federal government and the local agencies the city’s working with getting familiarized with the program.
There are certain requirements for people to qualify for the rent assistance. People and families applying must qualify for unemployment, had a pay cut, incurred significant costs, or felt some other hardship during or because of the pandemic. People and families who make up to 80 percent of the area median income ($55,950 or less for one person) will qualify, though the city says people at or below 50 percent AMI ($36,700 or less for one person) will be prioritized. The program can provide up to 15 months of rent assistance for certain applicants.
People can apply online on the city’s website and can call Colorado Housing Connects at 1-844-926-6632 if they need help applying. Immigration status or even landlord participation for this program is not required for people to get the rental assistance money.
Woodbury said there will be three new contracts before the Denver City Council this month to help disperse the first batch of money the city got from the federal government. The proposed contracts would be with Jewish Family Service of Colorado ($3.5 million), The Salvation Army ($3 million) and the Community Firm ($4.2 million).
The second batch of money will be dispersed once the first batch is used up. The city has until September 2022 to use up the first pot, and until September 2025 to use that second pot of money.
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