WENATCHEE — Rental assistance for low-income households is getting more accessible.

Those applying for the Chelan-Douglas Community Action Council’s Eviction Rent Assistance Program no longer have to provide information regarding how COVID-19 impacted their income, nor does the council need to prioritize qualified applicants based on their income.

Previously, the Chelan-Douglas Community Action Council had to prioritize individuals whose income was at 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI) or below and who were unemployed even though the cutoff was 80% AMI.

“Gathering information to make that determination added an extra layer of verification processes and created the wait list of people who did not meet the prioritization requirement,” said the council’s executive director, Alan Walker.

Now the only requirements are that households have an income at or below 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI) and have a missed or past due rent payment not paid or partially unpaid since March 1, 2020, for the residence they currently occupy. Citizenship is not an eligibility requirement of the program.

The change in criteria came as a result of a change in the council’s contact with the state, which funds the program through a COVID-19 relief grant.

Households that meet the new criteria can receive assistance for past-due or future rent, although future rent payments are limited to three months at one time. Assistance for utilities — such as electricity, gas, water and sewer, trash removal, and energy costs like oil or wood for heating — is also available. All rent and utility payments will be made directly to the landlord or utility provider.

Since January, Chelan-Douglas Community Action Council has provided support to 825 qualifying households, including 142 households during the first two weeks of October. To meet this demand, the non-profit added staff.

“There is a strong need in our region and our staff is working very hard to meet that need. It’s exciting to see the change in eligibility requirements,” Walker said in a press release. “This allows us to offer financial assistance to individuals and families that need it but were having difficulty meeting existing criteria.”

The receives support with outreach from several regional nonprofits, including Hand In Hand Immigration Services, Community for the Advancement of Family Education (CAFE), and Children’s Home Society of Washington.

Individuals interested in applying for assistance can contact the Chelan-Douglas Community Action Council office at (509) 662-6156.

Sydnee Gonzalez: (509) 661-5216

gonzalez@wenatcheeworld.com or

on Twitter @sydnee_gonzalez

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