EVERETT — Since April, roughly 4,000 Snohomish County tenants have been approved for help with rent bills. However, frontline case workers with the county’s Dispute Resolution Center are still working through about 6,000 applications.
“It is getting faster to work through the cases,” said Galina Volchkova, who oversees Volunteers of America’s Homelessness Prevention Team at the Dispute Resolution Center.
Volchkova said the average payment per household is somewhere between $8,000 or $10,000. When applicants call 2-1-1, housing navigators with the Dispute Resolution Center walk people through the application process.
“They just need to call 2-1-1 to complete the screening,” Volchkova said. “Then there will be a way to access services.”
Volchkova noted the housing navigators do not ask for people’s Social Security number or immigration status. While housing navigators generally collect an applicant’s proof of income, they can also work with people who are paid in cash. Volchkova said many people, especially in immigrant communities, are not applying for help because they are worried the information they give may be used against them.
“There’s no question about citizenship or immigration,” Volchkova said. “There’s no need to enter a Social Security number. There are no questions about that.”
While the state eviction moratorium expired at the end of June, Gov. Jay Inslee issued an emergency proclamation that extended protections for some renters. Those seeking rental assistance are protected under the “bridge” eviction policy. People who have already negotiated a payment plan with their landlord are also protected.
Less than two weeks before the state eviction moratorium expired, the Dispute Resolution Center was processing a 7,000-case backlog of applications for rental assistance. It was unlikely that money would reach many landlords before the moratorium expired. Local governments and housing advocates said they needed more time to distribute money and set up programs meant to stave off a wave of evictions.
In some counties, landlords were also able to start eviction proceedings Aug. 1 for tenants who are not paying rent, haven’t applied for rental assistance and don’t have a payment plan in place. However, it was unclear Friday if that is the case in Snohomish County.
The county’s Eviction Resolution Program, also run by the Dispute Resolution Center, isn’t fully up and running. LaDessa Croucher, senior director for the Dispute Resolution Center, said it will be about another week before the Eviction Resolution Program accepts cases. In the meantime, Croucher said, landlords can request a repayment plan be made.
Katie Hayes: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @misskatiehayes.
Katie Hayes is a Report for America corps member and writes about issues that affect the working class for The Daily Herald.
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