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King County to stop accepting new applications for rental assistance program

People have until February 28 to apply, but the county says it likely has more applications than it can assist.

SEATTLE — King County rental assistance is running out. The county announced it would pause applications for help and said reopening the system for new applicants seems unlikely. 

The county's Eviction Prevention and Rental Assistance Program (EPRAP) had a slow rollout. However, it has distributed $244 million in rental assistance and processed applications for 39,444 households since March of 2020.

Funds are running out with 11,245 households still assigned to a provider and 10,943 applications that have pre-registered and are waiting for assistance. 

King County will not accept new applications through the EPRAP tenant portal after Feb. 28 at 11:59 p.m.

"As of last week, the program fully expended funding from the U.S. Treasury. We continue discussions with federal and state leaders to receive additional funds knowing current funding will leave thousands of households behind on rent payments and need assistance," said Department of Community & Human Services Director Leo Flor in a post of the department's blog.

The county said it received an additional $66.5 million for the EPRAP program from the state's Department of Commerce. That money will be used to fund remaining applications but it will not serve all pre-registered households. 

"A lot of people are going to ultimately be moving out or leaving the area, ultimately become homeless if that can't [leave]" said Edmund Witter, the managing attorney of the King County Bar Association's Housing Justice Project. 

The Housing Justice Project estimates 5,000 to 7,000 households could be left behind when funding runs out. Witter said running out of money isn't the only problem. 

"The second part of the problem is the county has no long-term plan, at least no solid plan, right now to be able to provide rental assistance or that type of safety net for people who need help down the road," Witter said. 

Witter argues the state and county should address what's next for the thousands of household who can't get money for assistance. 

"We are committed to communicating with the region about the status of the program," Flor wrote in the department's blog. 

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