3,500 households seek rental assistance

Volunteers of America has helped 900 households in Snohomish County since January as it processes thousands of applications.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118

EVERETT — Nearly 3,500 households are waiting for rental assistance in Snohomish County.

The latest round of money is for up to 15 months of a household’s overdue rent and only available to people who haven’t received rental assistance in the past. Volunteers of America has distributed more than $75 million to help more than 13,000 households pay rent since the pandemic began. In 2021, the nonprofit put money in people’s hands at one of the fastest rates in Washington.

“The need in the community is huge,” said Galina Volchkova, senior director for Housing Services at VOA. “… While many communities and other states were struggling to distribute rental assistance, we had already spent it. We were looking around like, ‘What’s next?’”

The nonprofit began distributing another $23 million in January. VOA has doled out more than $7.1 million to about 900 households.

The 3,500 households waiting for help are at different stages of the application process, Volchkova said. Some are waiting for a rental navigator to call them, while others are days away from their landlord receiving money. The long line for the rental assistance program also means long wait times, though.

When someone seeking help calls 211, an information and referral specialist answers and tries to connect the person to local programs that can help them. The time it takes callers to reach a 211 referral specialist varies, depending on how many people are calling on that day and at that time.

Sometimes the referral specialist answers immediately. Sometimes it takes up to two hours. North Sound 2-1-1 Program Manager Amanda Etchey said the average wait time was 15 minutes in January.

The 211 specialists also determine if callers are eligible for the rental assistance program. If so, the 211 specialist explains how the program works and what documents the caller needs to apply for the money. Volchkova added that people don’t need a Social Security number to get money and that no one asks about immigration status.

“Some people might be undocumented,” Volchkova said. “The program doesn’t limit anyone by immigration status … but there’s still fear in the community.”

The next step, and the longest part of the application process, is the time it takes for a rental navigator to call the person seeking rental assistance. The expected wait time is eight to 10 weeks right now.

“We are happy to connect with the landlord and update them on the situation,” Volchkova said. VOA will “confirm the tenant is involved in the program.”

In the past year, Washington 211 has received more housing-related calls from two Everett ZIP Codes than anywhere else in the state. Residents in the 98201 ZIP Code, which covers north Everett to 41st Street, called 211 more than 3,900 times seeking housing help. Residents in the 98204 ZIP Code, located near Paine Field, called more than 4,800 times.

Katie Hayes: katie.hayes@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @misskatiehayes.

Katie Hayes is a Report for America corps member and writes about issues that affect the working class for The Daily Herald.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

1 pedestrian dead after car crash on I-5 south of Marysville

Around 5 p.m., a car crashed into a pedestrian along I-5. Investigators believed a man had parked on the shoulder to refuel.

FILE - A person walks near the Legislative Building, Wednesday, April 21, 2021, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Washington's redistricting commission failed to meet its deadline and on Tuesday, Nov. 16, kicked the job of creating new political maps to the state Supreme Court. The bipartisan commission had a deadline of 11:59 p.m. Monday to approve new boundaries for congressional and legislative districts following the 2020 census. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Do Snohomish County lawmakers want a 2020 presidential rematch?

The Herald contacted seven Republican legislators representing parts of Snohomish County about their primary choice. Five did not respond.

A man walks by Pfizer headquarters, Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, in New York. Pfizer will spend about $43 billion to buy Seagen and broaden its reach into cancer treatments, the pharmaceutical giant said. (AP Photo / Mark Lennihan, File)
Pfizer backs out of Everett manufacturing plant after $43B Seagen deal

Pfizer finalized the acquisition of the Bothell-based cancer drug developer in December.

Photo provided by 
Economic Alliance
Economic Alliance presented one of the Washington Rising Stem Awards to Katie Larios, a senior at Mountlake Terrace High School.
Mountlake Terrace High School senior wins state STEM award

Katie Larios was honored at an Economic Alliance gathering: “A champion for other young women of color in STEM.”

A view of one of the potential locations of the new Aquasox stadium on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024 in Everett, Washington. The site sits between Hewitt Avenue, Broadway, Pacific Avenue and the railroad. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
20 businesses could be demolished for downtown Everett stadium

Some business owners say the city didn’t tell them of plans for a new AquaSox stadium that could displace their businesses.

Kathy Purviance-Snow poses for a photo in her computer lab at Snohomish High School on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Snohomish, WA. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
To ban or embrace ChatGPT? Local teachers fight AI with AI — or don’t

“It has fundamentally changed my teaching in really stressful and exciting ways,” an EvCC teacher said. At all levels of education, ChatGPT poses a tricky question.

In this Feb. 5, 2018, file photo a Boeing 737 MAX 7 is displayed during a debut for employees and media of the new jet in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
FAA gives Boeing 90 days to develop plan to fix quality, safety issues

The agency’s ultimatum comes a day after a meeting with CEO Dave Calhoun and other top Boeing officials in Washington, D.C.

Firefighters respond to a report of a smoke alarm going off in the 100 block of West Main Street in Monroe on Monday morning. Fire officials confirmed the fire was coming from living quarters above Good Brewing Co. (Provided by Snohomish County Regional Fire and Rescue).
Fire damages apartment above Monroe brewery

Good Brewing Co. on West Main Street was listed as permanently closed Monday.

Tom Ceurvorst picks up his food order at Big Chicken on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Free ice cream Wednesday for Shaq’s birthday at Big Chicken in Mukilteo

Sign a card for the NBA Hall of Famer and restaurant founder. Shaquille O’Neal turns 52 on March 6.

Flowers for slain trooper Chris Gadd begin to collect outside Washington State Patrol District 7 Headquarters on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Police: Lynnwood man consumed cannabis, beer before crash into trooper

Trooper Chris Gadd, 27, was stopped along I-5 when he was hit and killed early Saturday. Troopers suspect Raul Benitez Santana was impaired.

Madi Humphries, 9, Rose Austin, 13, and Eirene Ritting, 8, on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024 in Bothell, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
No grades, no teachers: Inside a Bothell school run by student vote

Each day at The Clearwater School, 60 students choose their own lessons. It’s one vote per person, whether you’re staff or student.

SonShine Preschool inside First Baptist Church Monroe is pictured Friday, March 1, 2024, in Monroe, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
SonShine preschool in Monroe to close at the end of the year

The preschool, operated by First Baptist Church, served kids for 25 years. School leadership did not explain the reason behind the closure.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.