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Polk County Rental Assistance Program Looks For Nonprofit Partners

Rich Pedroncelli
AP file
The emergency rental and utility assistance program will open in coming weeks, but as of now, the organization in charge of Polk County's funds is looking to partner with local nonprofits to help spread the word and fill out tenant applications once they are open.

A Polk County community action organization is looking for nonprofits to partner with for an upcoming emergency rental and utility assistance program.

A new rental assistance program in Polk County will be available soon. The organization in charge of the funds is currently looking for local nonprofits to help with the applications.

Jen Heithoff, the planning and engagement director for IMPACT Community Action Partnership, said if nonprofits help their communities with the application, they may be able to reach some underserved families who may have missed out in the past.

"For them to be in kind of a trusted partnership, you know, they're already working with these nonprofits. They know, based on who they're working with, that it's a legitimate program and that they're not at any risk of harm," Heithoff explained. "And so just we're looking to access the trust that these nonprofits already have with the families that they're serving."

Heithoff said the partnerships will allow further reach to communities IMPACT hasn't already connected with.

“We know that there are a ton of smaller communities within the larger communities in Polk County. We might not be reaching these people from IMPACT, but we know that they're getting assistance somewhere. So we're trying to reach out, to cast the net as widely as we can," Heithoff said.

IMPACT is looking for nonprofits who can help tenants with the online rental/utility assistance program application, which is expected to open in coming weeks. The partnership will help overcome language and technology access barriers.

"So rather than trying to explain what we need to every single applicant, we're hoping that we can make that clear to these partner organizations so that if there's any confusion with the applicants themselves that can be cleared up before those applications come in to us," Heithoff said. The clearer the application, Heithoff said the quicker the approval.

Heithoff said the organization has around $14 million for the upcoming program. Nonprofit partners will receive $30 for each successful application they help complete, which comes out of the funds allocated for administration fees.

"Housing money is so hard to come by because you're potentially sending out thousands of dollars at a time and you can't have a rent drive like you can have a food drive. So when we get this kind of money, it's pretty exciting for us to be able to help families in this way," Heithoff said in anticipation of the program opening.

IMPACT currently has ten partners, but is open to as many as possible within Polk County.

Interested nonprofits can fill out this form or contact Heithoff and IMPACT directly.