The Idaho Housing and Finance Association hopes to help Idahoans struggling to pay rent and utilities as a result of COVID-19.
The agency’s Housing Preservation Program will fund as much as $15 million in assistance for Idaho renters who make 80% of the Area Median Income level or less. The AMI level varies by metro area and number of people living in each household. For the Boise metro, the 80% income level is $47,900 per year for a household of two.
IHFA chipped in an initial $250,000, and Gov. Brad Little’s administration put $5 million from the Coronavirus Relief Fund into the pool. The state could contribute two additional payments of $5 million each, depending on demand.
“The committee is hopeful this will offer much-needed relief to renters and landlords, which will help people get back on their feet as they return to work,” Rep. Melissa Wintrow said.
Up to six months of payments
The program aims to provide short-term help for renters who fall behind on payments due to COVID-19. The application process should take about ten days, according to IHFA, and payments will go straight to landlords or utility companies.
“People are heading back to work, but they may not get a paycheck for the next several weeks,” Garden City Mayor and Coronavirus Financial Advisory Committee member John Evans said. “This program will help keep Idahoans in their homes with their lights on and the water running until they can get back on their feet after a global economic crisis.”
Assistance amounts will differ for each household according to an IHFA frequently asked questions page. The fund could make up to six months worth of payments.
The IHFA program is one of several the state launched using federal coronavirus funds. The state will pay cash bonuses for employees to return to work, grants for small businesses impacted by COVID-19, and even help fund public safety officers to provide property tax relief.