Feds provide Salt Lake County with $10M for rental assistance

The U.S. Treasury is providing Salt Lake County with an additional $10 million in aid for rental assistance, citing the county's strong performance in distributing rental assistance funds as the reason for the influx of money.

The U.S. Treasury is providing Salt Lake County with an additional $10 million in aid for rental assistance, citing the county's strong performance in distributing rental assistance funds as the reason for the influx of money. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

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SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake County residents struggling to pay rent received welcome news on Tuesday as the county announced that the U.S. Treasury is providing an additional $10 million in aid for rental assistance, citing the county's strong performance in distributing rental assistance funds as the reason for the influx of money.

Lauren Littlefield, Salt Lake County's housing stability and recovery manager, said Salt Lake County and the Utah Department of Workforce Services have executed the rental assistance program as a partnership, working to develop the single-application portal where folks can apply for the funds.

"Once that portal was live, the need for this rental assistance was really obvious," Littlefield added. "Since about April, we've been putting about $1 million a week just into Salt Lake County to help residents who are in need of rental assistance."

She said the county was awarded just over $29 million in emergency rental assistance funds in January 2021, all of which was completely allocated to county residents by the end of September, denoting a strong performance.

"The need is so great in Salt Lake County for rental assistance and these funds are clearly helping families," Littlefield said.

To go alongside the additional money, the county is working on a new program with Utah Community Action and Centro de la Familia, to work with residents who are struggling to make rent — helping people complete applications for rental assistance. The program will offer much-needed support to families of all backgrounds and situations struggling with housing insecurity.

"Housing stability continues to be critical for our residents as we navigate new COVID-19 variants and their impacts on our workforce," Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson said in a statement. "We are constantly striving to improve access to our most vulnerable and diverse populations and are grateful for UCA's and Centro de la Familia's commitment to provide application assistance."

Salt Lake County identified gaps in the application process last year, realizing that the process proved to be difficult to complete for some people, Littlefield said.

"There (are) several documents that are required in order to have a complete application. One of those is your lease, one of them is income verification and then one of the things that (has) been difficult for tenants to get is their landlord's W-9, so we realized in 2021 that this could be a difficult process," Littlefield said.

In response, the county launched a program with administrative funds for the emergency rental assistance program to provide 21 different community-based organizations with funds to perform outreach, language assistance, education and application assistance for people needing rental assistance, especially in communities that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

"These two organizations can step in and help people work with their landlords to get those W-9's and help them understand and find all of the documents that are required to complete this application and get them the assistance they need," Littlefield said.

In 2021, one of the largest reasons for rental assistance applications being denied was the lack of response from applicants when documents or information was missing. By creating this new system, Salt Lake County is enabling partners to:

  • Increase communication to submit complete applications
  • Work together to secure necessary documents for qualification
  • Provide physical and virtual opportunities for application assistance in geographic areas across Salt Lake County
  • Provide application status updates

"We understand that applying for rental assistance can be daunting," Sahil Oberoi, director of housing and case management at Utah Community Action, said in a statement. "Our goal is to simplify this process by walking clients through the application and helping them identify the necessary documents needed to successfully submit their application."

"We aim to make emergency rental assistance available to the families who need help the most but are often least able to access the program on their own," Teri Peters, Centro de la Familia's program design and monitoring manager, said in a statement.

The program will also help residents get updates on applications they have already submitted if they haven't heard back about it, which is a new component of the program.

"If someone has applied for rental assistance — in the very near future — they will be able to call Utah Community Action or Centro de la Familia to get an update on their rental assistance application," Littlefield said.

Since March 2021, more than 48,000 Salt Lake County residents have received at least $64 million in rental assistance. The $10 million boost to rental assistance funds is specifically for residents in Salt Lake County, but the state still has $83 million in available funds for residents outside of Salt Lake County.

For direct rental assistance application help and troubleshooting, Salt Lake County residents can contact Utah Community Action, at 801-359-2444; or Centro de la Familia, by emailing ERAP@cdlf.org or calling 801-707-9986.

Residents who have been impacted by the pandemic can apply for rental assistance funds if their combined household income is at or below 80% of the median income for their area. For a family of four, the income limit is $73,750 or less. The application is available here.

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Logan Stefanich is a reporter with KSL.com, covering southern Utah communities, education, business and tech news.


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