Washington state to give $100 million in rental assistance

September 3, 2020 GMT

SEATTLE (AP) — Washington state officials are providing nearly $100 million in rental assistance as a part of the federal coronavirus relief bill.

The state Department of Commerce said its program focuses on preventing evictions by paying up to three months of rent to landlords of eligible participants.

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee signed off on the funding, which passes the state money through county governments. The county then contracts organizations that have a history of providing rental assistance, said Ted Kelleher, the managing director of the Housing Assistance Unit at the Department of Commerce.

“I get calls, at least one an hour, from a person who is in a critical situation,” Kelleher said. “Everyone is working as fast as they can, faster than it’s ever happened before. There is the eviction moratorium through October, so there is a little bit of space there, but it’s not to undersell the fact that people really need their rent assistance right away.”

Kelleher told KING-TV that the $100 million in coronavirus aid bill funding will not be enough, but is a good start.

“It’s unlikely to be enough in most of the scenarios we run through,” Kelleher said. “There just isn’t enough money to deal with rental assistance and all the other needs that state and local governments are facing. It’s really going to take significant federal assistance to fully fill this gap. So, $100 million is an important start, and it’ll help set up the system to be able to accept additional assistance when it becomes available.”