New federal vouchers will help county families with rent

  • By Julie Muhlstein Herald Writer
  • Monday, June 6, 2011 12:01am
  • Local News

Fifty families in Snohomish County at risk of losing their children to foster care because of inadequate housing will receive help staying together, thanks to new federal rental vouchers.

The Housing Authority of Snohomish County is one of four housing agencies in the state to be awarded part of $1.44 million in federal Family Unification Program vouchers to be used for rental assistance. The awards from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development were announced Thursday.

Snohomish County’s share, $454,830, will pay for 50 vouchers. Other housing agencies receiving the awards are in Clallam County, King County and the city of Seattle.

“These are a different kind of voucher, in addition to our regular vouchers,” said Melanie Pilkenton, a tenant based assistance manager with the Housing Authority of Snohomish County. Already, she said Friday, the agency provides about 3,000 vouchers to households in the county. The level of rent assistance is based on income, she said.

Pilkenton said the 50 new vouchers from the Family Unification Program are aimed at parents at risk of losing their children to foster care because of inadequate housing. The county housing agency will join with the state Department of Social and Health Services to identify families who need the vouchers, she said.

The 50 new vouchers, available for this fiscal year, also provide rent assistance in proportion to income, Pilkenton said. In all, Washington’s housing agencies were awarded 199 Family Unification Program vouchers this year, up from 183 in 2010 and 150 in 2009.

The average annual cost of a Family Unification Program voucher is $5,600, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Foster care, according to the federal agency, can cost as much as 10 times that amount.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460,

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