Nearly 23,000 Alaskans have applied for rental and utility COVID-19 relief before Friday night’s deadline
JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - The Alaska Housing Finance Corp. says that close to 23,000 Alaskans have applied for a rental and utility assistance through a program that aims to provide relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The deadline to apply for help through the housing corporation is 11:59 p.m. on Friday.
Bryan Butcher, the CEO of Alaska Housing Finance Corp., said that Alaskans who have submitted applications have requested an average of $12,284 to catch up on missed rental payments and to cover future needs during the pandemic.
Of those 22,821 applications, 7,224 Alaskans have requested an average of $998 to help pay their heating and electrical bills.
There is no set time when the money will be distributed, but Butcher said he hopes it will start going out later in March. The money will be paid directly to landlords and utilities, Butcher added.
Data from the Alaska Housing Finance Corp. shows that nearly one-quarter of applicants have been unemployed for more than 90 days. Around 12% of applicants have received eviction notices.
“Which lets you know that the program is going to help the people who really, really need the help,” Butcher said.
The University of Alaska Center for Economic Development presented to the Alaska Legislature in late February about the need for housing relief during the COVID-19 pandemic. The center estimated that 40,000 Alaskans are not up to date on rent or mortgage payments.
The $200 million allocated to Alaska for rental and utility relief came from a $900 billion federal COVID-19 package that was signed into law in late December.
Butcher said the total amount requested to date would be close to $300 million which would mean the program appears to be over-subscribed. But, he said that is the maximum assistance requested and that once the total number of qualified applications are processed that the multimillion-dollar figure would drop.
There will be enough money available so that all eligible Alaskans who are in arrears for rent and utilities can make up for missed payments during the pandemic, Butcher added.
“And if you think at all that you might have been detrimentally impacted by the pandemic, please get on the website and check,” he said. “We believe that some people will believe that they don’t qualify and it turns out that they do qualify.”
The question now is how much can be distributed for future rent and utility needs for the. That will depend on the number of eligible Alaskans who apply for help, Butcher said.
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