Close to one-third of rental households in Alaska applied for financial help through the Alaska Housing Finance Corp. under a federally funded program launched early this year to help people struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, the state agency is opening up a second round of assistance that’s expected to support additional families who are having trouble paying their rent and utility bills.
The assistance comes after the U.S. Supreme Court last month ended a federal moratorium on evictions.
In the first round of relief, more than 20,000 Alaska households received help. To date they’ve received an average of more than $6,500, said Stacy Barnes, a spokeswoman with the housing agency. The agency has paid $135 million for that round so far.
About 30,000 households sought help in the first round, Barnes said. Some people weren’t eligible, others didn’t properly fill out the paperwork and some people withdrew after applying, Barnes said.
The sign-up for the new round began a couple of weeks ago. It ends this Friday at 11:59 p.m.
“We want to make sure every Alaskan who is eligible has the opportunity to apply,” Barnes said.
Barnes also said the agency is awaiting approval from the federal government to implement a program to provide pandemic-related mortgage relief to households.
Here are some answers to basic questions about the rental relief program:
Who is eligible?
People who didn’t benefit in the first round can apply, as well as those who already exhausted their assistance in the first round.
Eligible households experienced financial hardship due to the pandemic, and have a household income at or below 80% of area median income.
In Anchorage, the maximum income to be eligible is $77,840 a year, or $6,487 per month. In the Matanuska-Susitna Borough it’s $73,120 and $6,093, respectively. In Fairbanks, it’s $74,480 and $6,206.
To sign up, visit alaskahousingrelief.org. Applicants can quickly see if they meet income criteria and other eligibility requirements at the website.
The agency confirms rental and utility payment information. It sends the checks directly to landlords and utilities.
How much could I be eligible for?
Up to three months of rent and utilities, fully paid, excluding broadband payments.
That’s less than the first round, which was designed to provide payments for up to 12 months, depending on need. The first-round application period ended in March.
As before, the assistance can be applied retroactively.
How many people will benefit this time?
Alaska Housing Finance Corp. has received around 7,000 applications so far for this round.
It’s unclear how many of those will qualify, and how many more will arrive by the deadline late Friday.
The housing agency has about $150 million in funds for this round. But that money is also being used to provide payments that are continuing under the first round.