Alaska renters can apply starting Tuesday for as much as 12 months of rent and utility assistance in a new COVID-19 relief program.
The program is funded by the federal government and is a joint project of the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, the Municipality of Anchorage and Cook Inlet Housing Authority.
“We really just want Alaskans in Anchorage and the outlying areas to understand that if they are in need of rental or utility assistance right now, there’s a central place to go to,” said Gabe Layman of Cook Inlet Housing Authority.
Applications will be taken online, and renters anywhere in Alaska are eligible if they are having trouble paying rent and have been financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
AHFC is encouraging interested renters to check their eligibility online or by calling 1-833-440-0420.
Applications will be taken through 11:59 p.m. on March 5, and the first payments will be made after that date.
“We’re asking tenants to be patient, to understand that this is a process: A check may not come right away,” Layman said.
The program is funded by $200 million provided through a federal coronavirus relief package approved in December.
“With the $200 million, we expect to be able to provide relief for every eligible Alaskan who does apply,” said Stacy Barnes, a spokeswoman for AHFC.
Barnes said this is a new program, so even if someone has received housing aid from AHFC or another program, they need to fill out a fresh application.
Applicants should expect to provide a copy of their lease agreement, a photo ID and some kind of proof that they have suffered financial hardship because of the pandemic.
Many of the program’s rules were set by the federal government, not Alaska.
Money is paid directly to landlords, not to renters, and landlords themselves cannot apply on behalf of their renters. Aid is available to pay rent as far back as March 2020, as well as rent due in the next year.
Commercial renters are not eligible — the program is for housing only. The program also is not for people who own their own home.