Arizona Residents Could Be in Line for $22 Million in Stimulus Funds
- Many tenants owe their landlords months of past-due rent and risk eviction in the absence of being able to pay.
- Now, Pima County and the City of Tucson are making $22 million in rent relief funds available to residents.
Talk about relief coming in at just the right time.
The COVID-19 pandemic dealt a huge financial blow to millions of Americans. Back in 2020, when job loss was abundant, many tenants quickly fell behind on their rent payments in the absence of having money in savings to tap.
Lawmakers put an eviction ban in place to prevent a massive homelessness crisis at a time when they were also desperately trying to contain a harmful virus. But that federal eviction ban expired last year, and since then, many tenants with outstanding rent-related debts have been at risk of losing their homes.
The good news is that the last two stimulus bills signed into law allocated billions of dollars in rent relief funds. And even though rent relief programs kicked off last year, some cities and counties are getting fresh rounds of funding for rental assistance purposes.
In fact, recently, Pima County and the City of Tucson were able to allocate a combined $22 million for rent relief purposes. Residents of the county or city can now apply for relief if they're still behind on their rent and risk losing their homes because of that.
Applying for rent relief
Residents of Pima County and the City of Tucson can apply for rental assistance funds online. Those who are granted relief may receive enough money to cover up to 15 months of unpaid rent and housing expenses, up to a limit of $30,000. That money can go toward not just past-due rent, but also outstanding utility bills that include electric, gas, and water.
To qualify, applicants must prove they experienced some type of financial hardship due to or during the pandemic. That could include job loss or reduced hours resulting in income loss.
Applicants must also have a total household income that doesn't exceed 80% of the area median income. For a household of four, that means not having an income above $54,700.
Any tenant who qualifies for assistance will not see that money directly. Rather, relief funds will be paid directly to landlords who are owed rent, or to utility providers that are owed money.
It's also worth noting that Pima County and the City of Tucson will allow landlords to apply for rent relief funds on their tenants' behalf. Property managers can also apply for rental assistance on the part of tenants.
An important lifeline
As of the end of February, Pima County and the City of Tucson had given out over $4.8 million in funds to cover past-due utility bills, and over $50 million in total rental assistance funds. The fact that more aid is being made available to those in need could help prevent a stream of evictions -- and spare many tenants the horror of winding up with no place to live.
Those in need of rent relief are encouraged to apply as quickly as possible, since the program at hand only has a limited amount of funds. Once that $22 million runs out, rent relief may be off the table for the foreseeable future.
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