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Counties giving millions in rental assistance before state eviction moratorium ends

The state's eviction ban is set to expire in June, unless it's extended again, but housing advocates say they need more time to connect people with needed funds.

RENTON, Wash. — A federal judge has vacated a nationwide ban on evictions, but many states, including Washington, have their own temporary eviction bans in place.

Washington state's eviction moratorium is scheduled to expire June 30, but housing advocates said they need more time.

"Our systems do have a capacity limit, and their ability to be able to process things in a timely fashion is going to be hard," said Edmund Witter, the managing attorney with the King County Bar Association, which runs the Housing Justice Project.

U.S. Census data shows 166,712 adults in Washington said they have slight or no confidence that their household could pay rent for the month of April. The Housing Justice Project estimates up to 50,000 of those families are in King County.

"We see about 4,500 eviction filings a year, so having between 48,000 to 50,000 people being behind on their rent is really huge," said Witter.

It's a similar story in Snohomish County. Volunteers of America recently began taking applications for federal assistance secured by Snohomish County and has received more than 6,000 applications in the past two weeks.

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"It's a lot of stress, and it's scary for someone to imagine, within a couple of months, they're not going to have a home. Where would they go with the kids?" said Volunteers of America Housing Director, Galina Volchkova.

However, there is help. Witter said a lot of people don't realize state and federal programs have a combined billion dollars in funds to keep Washingtonians housed.

Of those funds, Witter said $165 million is for King County. Volchkova said Snohomish County has $50 million.

"Yes, it may sound like it's a lot of money. But the payments that we making towards eligible households is $10,000 to $20,000 per household," said Volchkova.

Both said applications can take weeks to process, which makes June 30 a tight deadline.

"We will be in the unfortunate circumstance of having tons of money, basically a billion dollars out there to keep people housed, said Witter. "But we will still see people get evicted despite that if we are not on the same page on this, and that is, I think, the most upsetting thing about all this," said Witter.

For more resources on rental assistance, click here.

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