PHOENIX — One thousand people a month are filling out applications needing help with their rent in the City of Phoenix.
However, the City of Phoenix doesn’t have any more Emergency Rental Assistance funds anymore. It ran out two weeks ago, and the rest of the millions in funding has been given to four other agencies to help get through the applications faster.
“We know that the demand for the service is very, very high,” Sandra A. Mendez, the City of Phoenix’s ERA special project administrator said.
Since September of last year, 12,000 applications have been filled out for the City of Phoenix’s ERA program.
A constant, Mendez says, following the hardships of COVID-19 and the eviction moratorium being lifted.
“We're moving through most of them as quickly as possible. But we knew that getting help from the community, especially partners that are experienced in this kind of work, was a good idea,” Mendez said.
The last allocation for rental assistance funding was $35 million. Mendez says a portion of that was kept by the City of Phoenix to administer themselves.
At the same time, the city started working with four partners to administer the rest of the funds.
Now, $23 million is still left in rental assistance, just through the other agencies and not through the City of Phoenix itself.
The Foundation for Senior Living, St. Vincent de Paul, Chicanos Por La Causa and Pilgrim Rest are the agencies taking on distributing the funds to applicants now.
“We're still processing applications in the order received. Only what we're doing now is we're distributing them across four providers who are helping us get to those applications and hopefully process applications quicker,” Mendez said.
How much longer those agencies will be distributing that assistance, is unclear, Mendez says, as it’s unknown how much longer the $23 million will last.
“We’re keeping our fingers crossed, and hope we get another $35 million allocation and that will extend,” Mendez said. “But at this point, it's really hard to say.”
The allocations the city has received are allocations Mendez said she hasn’t seen in the 30 years she’s worked in the field and doesn’t anticipate it will stay long-term.
“We're advising clients to start thinking about sustainability with their rent, that they start making plans for trying to find a little bit more affordable housing,” Mendez said.
However, Mendez acknowledges those options are limited.
“I think, from our perspective, it's best to start having those conversations and helping families look at options as we move forward.”
While the City of Phoenix isn’t the one distributing the funding anymore, they’re still taking the applications for the four other agencies that are. Information about the program, with a link to the application, can be found here.
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