Rental Assistance, Preventing Homelessness During COVID-19
At the start of 2020, the unknowns of COVID-19 itself caused first nervousness and then panic. The effects of the virus, apart from bodily, would soon become apparent as well.
Businesses closed temporarily. People lost work hours or jobs altogether. Bills and rent stacked up even with utility payment extensions and the moratorium on evictions.
But in the face of so many challenges caused by the COVID-19 crisis, our community was undaunted. We knew we had the tools in our belt to get through this.
One of the best tools: homelessness prevention work.
Revamping the Eviction Prevention Program
Our Home Base program was originally designed to help people who had fallen behind in their rent avoid eviction. In the six months after its 2019 start, Home Base prevented over 400 evictions and kept those families in their homes. So we knew it was the perfect tool to pivot for use against the looming COVID-19 evictions. The perfect tool to help families like Juan Carlos and Sofia’s.
62% of people evicted went straight into homelessness.Losing Home: The Human Cost of Eviction in Seattle (2018)
In early April 2020, Home Base was relaunched to provide rental assistance to workers who had lost all or part of their income due to the pandemic with funds from our Community Relief Fund.
The Community Relief Fund included $5 million in contributions from the City of Seattle, King County and the Seattle Foundation. Check out all the people and organizations that united for the Community Relief Fund!
When we launched the rental assistance program, we hoped to help 2,000 tenants. But within the first 72 hours, 7,000 households applied for assistance. We had to put the application portal on pause due to the overwhelming number of applicants.
This month, we’re pleased to have restarted this support that we now know that so many people need to get through this unprecedented crisis.
Read how the rental assistance program helped Juan Carlos and Sofia, among many others this spring. And it will continue to help people, thanks to community support.