Many Alaskans are worried about keeping their families housed and warm as they face an uncertain financial future due to hardship created by the global pandemic. Our state lost more than 25,000 jobs as residents hunkered down, businesses were ordered closed, the visitor season never materialized and resource development was halted.
The pandemic exacted a particularly harsh toll on some of our friends and neighbors who work in coffee shops and restaurants, hotels, retailers and in administrative roles. Jobs disappeared. Hours were cut. Meanwhile, many were also forced to contend with added caregiving costs when our schools shutdown and our neighbors helped out an ill family member or friend.
We’re proud of how these neighbors and friends looked after one another, and of the work of Alaska Housing Finance Corporation. At year end, Congress acted to bring relief to Alaskans with $200 million in federal funds, that with the support of Gov. Mike Dunleavy and our Legislature, is available to help with monthly rent and utilities providing up to 12 months of assistance for qualifying families in our state.
This federal money will go far in helping to keep lights on and people in our community stably housed. Alaska Housing Rent Relief will provide a critical safety net for Alaskans who have been impacted by the pandemic and its fallout through no fault of their own.
The effect of this rent relief is positive for more than those who live in these households. AHFC will pay landlords, property managers and utility companies directly, ensuring funds are used for their intended purpose and extending the benefit throughout our community and across the state.
We all know someone who lost income or increased their expenses due to the pandemic. Please take a minute to consider them and encourage them to apply for Alaska Housing Rent Relief. It could take years for eligible families to dig out of the hole that COVID-19 created for them. That’s not fair to them, and it’s not right. Now is the time for us to look out for one another and accept the relief that our congressional delegation worked for on our behalf.
AlaskaHousingRelief.org is open for applications now through 11:59 p.m. Friday, March 5. Information is also available by calling or texting “relief” to 1-833-440-0420 toll-free.
The application process is easy and confidential. Alaskans who received federally funded housing assistance earlier this summer are eligible to participate but they must apply for this new program.
Those who own their homes are not eligible but Congress is currently deliberating on legislation that could appropriate more funding to Alaska.
Regardless of your circumstance, we know that too many Alaskans are suffering, and we look forward to administering additional housing relief if and when it becomes available. Every Alaskan should have access to a safe, quality, affordable home.
Brent LeValley, a retired lender and bank community reinvestment officer, is Board Chair of Alaska Housing Finance Corporation. He lives in Fairbanks. Bryan Butcher is CEO/Executive Director of AHFC. He lives in Anchorage.
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