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Arizona program to hand out $289M in federal COVID rent aid starts slowly

A renter delivers cash to a landlord while narrowly avoiding eviction from an RV park on Oct. 7, 2020, in Phoenix. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

PHOENIX – A state-run program to distribute $289 million in federal COVID-19 aid for renters in rural Arizona counties is off to a slow start.

“Thus far we’ve received about 500 applications,” Michael Wisehart, director of the Arizona Department of Economic Security, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Thursday.

The department started taking applications for the federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program funding on Feb. 23.

The state-run program is for renters in the following counties: Apache, Cochise, Coconino, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, La Paz, Navajo, Santa Cruz, Pinal, Mohave and Yavapai.

They can apply for up to $3,500 per month per household to cover expenses dating back to March 2020.

“That would help with rental costs, utility costs as well as any potential court costs that may have been incurred relative to eviction or other court challenges,” Wisehart said.

In addition, landlords can seek up to $500 for court and attorney costs for each rental unit through the program, which runs through the end of 2021.

“It doesn’t just have to be that you are in a difficult situation right now; it could have been that you struggled at some point during the pandemic to meet your rental obligations,” Wisehart said.

Applications must be filed jointly by the tenant and landlord and include proof of hardship and other documentation. Details about eligibility and the application process are available on the DES website.

Maricopa, Pima and Yuma counties aren’t included because they received direct federal payments for their own assistance programs.

Chandler, Gilbert, Glendale, Mesa, Phoenix and Tucson also received federal funding for local assistance programs.

In total, the federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program provided $492 million for Arizona jurisdictions.

For Arizona vaccine information, visit azdhs.gov/findvaccine.

For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit ktar.com/coronavirus.

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