Community Action of Skagit County will launch a second round of their Eviction Prevention Program beginning March 8, slated to run through the end of 2021. The intention of this emergency funding is to prevent eviction for households who have been financially impacted by the COVID pandemic.
Based on the 2020 program, 130 households per month are anticipated to receive assistance per month. “Many Skagitonians may never had to ask for help before, or know that they may qualify for state and federal programs that expanded to serve more middle-income households during COVID,” said Kathleen Morton, Housing Program Manager. “For example, a household of three people could have earned around $4,700 in the last two months and may qualify for eviction prevention.”
Tenants may apply directly, or landlords may apply on behalf of tenants, however, eligibility is based on tenant information. Tenants may be eligible if their household income has been at or below 80% Area Median Income over the last 60 days, are behind in rent, and meet one or more other qualifications. Federal stimulus payments are not counted toward income.
Though Community Action’s main lobby in Mount Vernon is closed due to COVID restrictions, all services are available by phone and online. Limited in-person services are also available at the East County Resource Center in Concrete. For information on applying for Eviction Prevention by phone, signing up for the online waitlist, or determining qualifications, go to: www.communityactionskagit.org/eviction-prevention
Dedicated eviction prevention phone lines are open 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. every Monday to schedule appointments for the following week to determine eligibility: (360) 416-7588. Due to an expected high volume of calls and limited appointments, appointment times for the week may fill quickly. Those unable to get through by phone may sign up for a wait list online. Services by phone and the waitlist are available in English and Spanish.
“The second round of Eviction Prevention Program comes at a critical moment,” said Elizabeth Jennings, Community Engagement Manager. “With less than a 1% vacancy rate for apartments in Skagit County – the second lowest in the state – eviction prevention IS homelessness prevention. Because of the severe lack of affordable housing in Skagit County, there is no place for folks to go once that eviction notice hits.”
Approximately 10% of renters in Washington State are one or more months behind in rent, and the CDC’s eviction moratorium is slated to end March 31. Jennings said, “We’re happy to help tenants keep their homes, and help landlords to get paid.”
Community Action received $383,000 through the second round of ERAP (Eviction Rent Assistance Program) authorized by Congress late in 2020. Community Action anticipates receiving other funds in the coming weeks through T-RAP, but they don’t know how much.
These federal resources comes through the State Department of Commerce to counties, and Skagit County Public Health contracted with a number of local providers, including Community Action. While other providers are working through existing wait lists from the first round of funding, Community Action will be accepting new applicants.
For people who are struggling but not behind in rent, and for those who don’t qualify for eviction prevention, Community Action may be able to help with other services: paying energy bills, nutrition and diapers through WIC, legal assistance, help for seniors and disabled adults, Skagit Vets Connect, and information and referral to many other local agencies. www.CommunityActionSkagit.org, or (360) 416-7585.