Back by Popular Demand: Rental Assistance

By United Way of King County, on May 4, 2023 | In Fighting Homelessness, News

Last month, we told you that United Way of King County was no longer accepting rental assistance applications due to limited funds available but that a new program was on its way. That new program is here: United Way, which has administered the county’s rental assistance program for nearly a year, will continue to disperse payments when the program transitions to state government in June, local officials said this week.

Jake Janesch, United Way senior program manager for rental assistance and homeless prevention, said that the new program will be called Keep King County Housed and will be permanently funded through state budget funding. Janesch said, however, that United Way probably will not be accepting new applications for rental assistance until early summer, adding that there is still much planning, communication and documentation being conducted.

Once the program is fully up and running, Janesch said, United Way will return to selecting people from our waitlist, but the state program will include new layers of priorities to serve the most vulnerable populations first.

At the county level, the program reached more than 40,000 people, distributed $390 million in assistance, and addressed racial inequities in housing access, with 74 percent of recipient households headed by a person of color—who are more likely to be severely cost burdened.

United Way was put in charge of the county’s emergency rental assistance program last June and went on to disburse about $1 million a week in rental assistance—the equivalent of about 85 households, with each receiving nine months of back rent and three months of future rent. United Way will spend the remaining EPRAP funds this month and DCHS says, at that point, the program will be turned over to the state and administered by United Way.

Bellevue, WA, where the average rent for an apartment is $2,561 per month, according to RentCafe.

United Way of will continue to work with a network of rental assistance providers for the newly established state program, and County officials said that eviction prevention work will also continue with the state program. Throughout EPRAP, King County also distributed $16 million to the Housing Justice Project (HJP) to help prevent an increase in homelessness by providing legal services and funds to stop eviction after legal action had been taken with tenants.

“The new Keep King County Housed program is a rental assistance and eviction prevention program,” said Janesch. “We will be partnering with the Housing Justice Project to lead the eviction prevention side of the program and then partner with a handful of additional community-based organizations to distribute rental assistance.”

Janesch added that in 2019, UWKC significantly funded HJP through its HomeBase program to support eviction prevention work in the community. But throughout the EPRAP program, the County directly partnered with HJP. Now, under Keep King County Housed, HJP will move back under United Way and contract directly with us to serve tenants facing eviction.

“This will create a more cohesive/streamlined rental assistance and eviction prevention structure for the community,” Janesch said.

Check back here for more information and updates regarding rental assistance.


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