SEATTLE — More help is on the way for King County residents struggling to pay rent due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
On Friday morning, United Way of King County, the City of Seattle, and King County announced a partnership to expand the United Way’s Home Base program to help provide rental assistance to King County households.
An initial investment of $5 million in public and private funds will go to qualifying residents who lost all or part of their income due to the pandemic. The funds, which will go into the United Way’s Community Relief Fund, are estimated to help around 2,000 families stay in their homes.
The money is intended to help provide April rent that has not yet been paid. King County residents can apply if they are behind on rent, are economically impacted by COVID-19, and have a monthly household income below 50% of the area median income.
Residents in need of rental assistance can complete an online application or call 211. Translation services will also be available by calling 211.
The expanded Home Base program is funded by $1.5 million from King County, $1 million from the City of Seattle’s Housing Levy, and a $1.5 million grant from the Seattle Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund. The rest of the funds are from Microsoft, Starbucks, Amazon, WaFd Bank, AT&T, and people who donated to the United Way’s Community Relief Fund.
“This initial investment from our partners represents a good start, and it will allow us to provide immediate help to members of the community who have been hurt by the pandemic,” said Gordon McHenry, Jr., president and CEO of United Way of King County. “However, this crisis will be with us for the foreseeable future, and it will require a continuing effort from all of us to chip in and help as much as we can.”
Last month, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan enacted a 60-day moratorium on residential evictions in the city. Gov. Jay Inslee followed suit shortly after enacting a 30-day moratorium for the rest of the state.
“This partnership will provide immediate rent relief for 2,000 households, families and individuals who are being hit hardest by the economic impacts of COVID-19. Though there is a moratorium on evictions in place, this low-barrier funding will provide emergency support for those who need it most as we continue to secure policies and resources to keep people in their homes through this crisis,” said Seattle Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda.
In Seattle city limits, renters are protected from evictions for both non-payment and other non-compliances during this crisis. Landlords also can't charge you late fees that would have accrued from not paying.
King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht also wrote a letter in March to residing Superior Court Judge James Rogers that her department won't execute court-ordered evictions until further notice. Sheriff Johanknecht's order applies to residential as well as commercial evictions in King County.
“This is no time to be putting vulnerable people and families on the street without shelter,” said Sheriff Johanknecht. “I have committed to suspending evictions during this difficult time when we need to embrace our neighbors rather than remove them from their homes."
Both Mayor Durkan and Gov. Inslee's declarations do note that evictions could still happen if the tenant was putting themselves, other tenants, landlords, or the property in danger or committing a crime.
Since launching in 2019, the United Way Home Base program has helped more than 900 families by providing one-time emergency funds to pay rent and associated late and legal fees.