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Rent relief funds running out fast as December approaches

Some money is still available for landlords and property owners
Money from the CARES Act for rent relief in Anchorage is almost run out more than a month away...
Money from the CARES Act for rent relief in Anchorage is almost run out more than a month away from spending deadline.(Taylor Clark)
Published: Nov. 19, 2020 at 7:54 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - While many people struggle to make ends meet during the pandemic, the relief of those getting aid from the CARES Act to help pay rent is about to be gone unless another stimulus package is announced in Washington, D.C.

The United Way of Anchorage is the organization divvying out the money for rental assistance, as well as some other programs. President and CEO Clark Halvorson said they initially started with about $20 million for the program, but it’s already too late to try to sign up for help as an individual, as they already have “too many people in line.”

“Money seems to always be running out,” he said. “This has been a really great resource. The municipality identified that rent support was one of our biggest challenges, but these dollars run out at the end of December. So Dec. 31, and we’re watching every day to see what’s happening back in Washington, D.C. to see if there’s going to be another stimulus coming out so we can continue to provide that support.”

While individuals aren’t able to sign up anymore, there’s still a chance for some help depending on the kind of building one lives in.

At a point, Halvorson said they had been getting a lot of applications for help, but they weren’t seeing the feedback in some of the low-income areas they were looking to help the most with.

Instead of having the individuals come to United Way for help, Halvorson said they started seeking out landlords in these areas with buildings with multiple tenants. The landlord could then apply for an application for the whole building.

So the same goal was met, helping people cover the cost of rent, just in a more efficient way.

Halvorson said landlords who have tenants unable to pay because of the pandemic can call 211. He said they’ll be connected with an ambassador and there’s a chance that they can figure out a way to get some aid.

While more money from the federal government would be nice, Halvorson said it would only treat the symptoms, not the cause.

“I think that would be a Band-Aid,” he said. “I think the thing that we’d be really happy about is if we were in a place in Anchorage where people were able to go back to work, our businesses able to open again. And until we see a vaccine come through, that’s not going to happen. We’re seeing those numbers go up and I think we’re doing the right thing by saying we have to create more physical distance between ourselves.”

Halvorson said when the money does run out, they have some other, much smaller funds that they can use to help folks out, but they’ll continue to try and find ways to help people stay off the streets, which he said is one of their biggest fears come January.

What’s more, the state did not include a moratorium for evictions in their new disaster declaration. So now, landlords are allowed to evict their tenants legally.

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