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Phoenix, State agencies set to start COVID-19 rental assistance again

rent relief
Posted at 5:41 PM, Feb 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-09 21:09:18-05

PHOENIX — The Phoenix City Council approved plans to distribute $51.1 million in federal emergency rental and utility assistance funds.

Phoenix renters will be able to begin applying no later than March 8, according to City staff during Tuesday's council meeting.

Applications will be accepted by the Phoenix Human Services Department and non-profit Wildfire: Igniting Community Action to End Poverty in Arizona which will coordinate funds through other community action agencies.

The program, which is a part of the COVID relief bill passed in December 2020, can pay up to 12 months of back rent, and three months ahead. But unlike the CARES Act, the money cannot be applied to mortgage payments and there are stringent new income qualifications.

Federal rules require that recipients must have a COVID19-related reduction in income and make less than 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI).

In Phoenix for a family of four the maximum amount is $62,250, according to information provided by the city.

Priority will be given to households that make less than 50% of AMI which is $38,900 for a family of four. Those who have been unemployed due to COVID19 for more than 90 days go to the front of the line as well.

On Tuesday, the state announced the details of its distribution of $289 million in federal emergency rental and utility funds. The AMI rules apply across all programs funded by the COVID relief bill.

The Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) will administer the state's federally allocated funds, which is a change from how the state handled its CARES Act money.

In a press release, the department said it will begin accepting applications through a portal on its website on February 23.

DES will coordinate with local governments for residents of: Apache, Cochise, Coconino, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, La Paz, Mohave, Navajo, Pinal, Santa Cruz, and Yavapai counties.

Maricopa, Pima and Yuma counties opted to distribute their own funds, according to the DES press release.