Hundreds Of People Have Applied For Utah's Rental Assistance Program, But Many Still Need Help | KUER 90.1

Hundreds Of People Have Applied For Utah's Rental Assistance Program, But Many Still Need Help

Jun 30, 2020

Utah has provided nearly $134,000 in rental assistance to 112 people since mid-May, when the governor’s eviction freeze ended. 

Keith Heaton, Department of Workforce Services assistant director of housing, said the state’s new rental assistance program is intended to provide a safety net for people who don’t qualify for traditional unemployment insurance, like people without documentation.

Heaton said 435 applications are still in progress, and around 100 were turned down. 

“It is challenging,” he said. “We do continue to make changes and try to be flexible with this to make sure that we’re serving everyone’s needs.”

Pete Stoughton is the program director at the Christian Center of Park City, a community advocacy organization that serves Summit and Wasatch Counties. Over the past three months, Stoughton said the center has given out more than half a million dollars in basic needs assistance to around 700 households.

But that money has mostly come from charitable giving. Stoughton said clients who have applied for state funding through the new rental assistance program haven’t received it yet.

“There is criteria that no one in Wasatch or Summit County is able to meet, so we are unable to access those funds at all,” he said.

He said applicants’ housing must be inspected as one of the requirements, and no one in Summit or Wasatch County is certified to do that. 

Christina Davis, a spokesperson for the Department of Workforce Services, said they’re not aware of those issues, but applicants shouldn’t be denied because their unit can’t be inspected.

In fact, she said there may be some confusion around what agency people in Summit and Wasatch Counties should work with. But people in those counties who need help should seek it through Community Action Services and Food Bank.

Stoughton said they’re also trying to work with landlords to alleviate the burden to renters.

“We are seeing an increase in applications [for financial assistance],” he said. “People are saying they are back to work, but they’re only back to work 10 to 20 hours, so they don’t feel like they can pay their next rent.”

He said he’s nervous for the end of July — that’s when the eviction moratorium for federally subsidized housing ends.

Emily Means covers politics for KUER. Follow her on Twitter @Em_Means13