DC officials say housing, rental assistance going unused despite crisis

Despite the coronavirus pandemic thrusting many renters and homeowners into financial stress – and, in some cases – on the brink of homelessness, D.C.’s government says assistance funding is going unused.

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With the District – and other jurisdictions – clamping down once again amid soaring COVID-19 case numbers, local businesses and their employees are wary of additional financial hardships on the horizon.

“We know that a number of our residents have been just devastated financially and have been unable to pay the rent. And that has had a ripple effect on the affordable housing in the city,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said on Monday.

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As part of CARES Act funding, that money will be lost if it isn’t used by Dec. 31.

According to a survey conducted by the District regarding the financial burden of the pandemic, more than one third said they were having difficulty paying their mortgage in October.

In addition, most housing providers said they unaware of the programs the District was providing for renters.

With most of the District’s programs, the tenant is expected to apply.

In response, the District has set up a new grant that will provide $10 million in assistance to housing providers.

The program will pay for 80 percent of the delinquent rent, as long as the provider is willing to waive the additional 20 percent along with any unpaid fees.

The application process opened up today, Dec. 1, and will close Friday, Dec. 11.

You can find out if you’re eligible for these programs by clicking here.

In addition, the District launched a new program, the COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program, to provide assistance to renters who are behind on their rent due to the pandemic.

The District is providing $6.2 million in funding for CHAP. To date, the mayor says, only $500,000 of that assistance has been approved.

You can find out more by clicking here.

Finally, the Emergency Rental Assistance Program has been set up to help people who are facing crises by providing money for overdue rent, as well as security deposits.

Additional information is available on the District’s COVID-19 rental information page.