New COVID-19-Related Rental Assistance For Polk County
Renters are eligible if they have seen reduced income or increased costs due to COVID-19, as well as having a household income at or below 80 percent of the median area income.
The $6.5 million was distributed by the U.S. Department of Treasury. The city of Des Moines and Polk County will release funds in collaboration with IMPACT Community Action Partnership.
“We know from our experience that the need is extremely high right now that we have a lot of families facing eviction," Anne Bacon, the executive director of IMPACT, said. "And this program can really turn that around.”
In a press release, Des Moines mayor Frank Cownie said this is the most funding the city has received for financial assistance due to COVID-19.
As of now, applications for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program are only available over phone. IMPACT partnered with other nonprofits to get the word out about assistance.
"We are very excited to partner with many of our excellent nonprofits in the area. Many have been trained and are ready to go as soon as they're able to access that online application," Bacon said.
She said the online applications should be released to those partners by the end of the week.
“We do want to let people know that while we have many staff focused on this, the need is so high that our phones have been very overwhelmed. And that we are getting to people as quickly as we can," Bacon said.
Along with urging patience, Bacon said they are prioritizing households that are currently experiencing unemployment.
"Legislation requires us to prioritize families that have been unemployed for 90 days or more, as of the day they apply," Bacon said. "And so for our first at least week or two, we will only be serving families that have a household member that is currently unemployed, and that has been unemployed for at least 90 days."
A statewide rental assistance program is not yet available, but Bacon said that should be announced sometime next month.
"And one of the reasons we were able to start a little bit sooner, was our ability to take phone applications," Bacon explained.
IMPACT does have access to a language line for any interpretation needs. To apply by phone, residents should call IMPACT Community Action Partnership.