February 9, 2021: Phoenix Approves $51 Million in Emergency Rental and Utility Assistance
The Mayor and members of the Phoenix City Council have approved distribution of $51 million in new federal Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) dollars to Phoenix residents who need help making their rent payments and covering the cost of home utilities.
Last year, the city distributed more than $29 million in CARES Act assistance to more than 5,700 households. Yet, while COVID-19 continues to stress public health and the local economy, the need persists.
The new ERA Program is structured differently than the prior CARES Act Program. Under the ERA, eligible residents may receive up to 15 months of help with past due rent. There is no cap on the dollar amount of assistance, but participants must be recertified every three months. Utility assistance includes help with current and past due amounts for residential water, gas and electricity.
Mayor Kate Gallego said, “There is immense day-to-day stress when you’re unsure how you will pay the rent or keep the lights on in your home. Today’s decision by the council will give our residents financial and emotional relief, and go a long way toward preventing homelessness.”
Remarkably, new research suggests this kind of assistance may also prevent the spread of COVID-19. According to researchers at Duke University, a moratorium on local evictions can reduce the number of new infections and deaths, underscoring the value of keep families in their homes.
Those who apply for the ERA funds must make less than $62,250 for a family of four, and must have sustained a reduction in household income due to COVID-19. While the program does not cover mortgage payments, it does place a priority on families whose income is lower than $38,900 for a family of four and have been out of work for more than 90-days prior to applying for assistance.
The new program will be administered by the city’s Human Services Department and the non-profit Wildfire. Applications can be submitted by phone or online, beginning in early March.