Phoenix Needs More Workers Help Distribute Millions In Rent Relief
Phoenix is trying to hire more people to keep up with demand for utility and rent relief.
On Saturday, Vice Mayor Carlos Garcia hosted an event at Grant Park. With less than a week’s notice, he said more than 300 people showed up to learn about financial assistance for rent and utilities.
“We really need to figure out how to create more in-person opportunities for individuals to ask questions and sign up for appointments,” he said. “The digital divide is real and our phone system cannot keep up with the demand.”
Phoenix is working with a staffing agency to hire 50 temporary workers to help process applications. On Monday, the city extended hours at its three family services centers for residents to apply for Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) funds.
In March, the council allocated $51.1 million in federal funds to help renters with household incomes below 80% of the area median, which is $63,200 for a family of four.
Federal rules require priority be given to people who have been unemployed for at least three months and with incomes below 50% of area median. The Department of Housing and Urban Development sets income guidelines. A breakdown of income levels for Maricopa County can be found at huduser.gov/portal/datasets/il/il2021/2021summary.odn.
As of Wednesday, the city’s Human Services Department said it had disbursed more than $37 million to 4,882 households. That leaves nearly $14 million to distribute.
The council approved splitting the ERA funds with Phoenix-based nonprofit Wildfire, which administered a similar rent relief program in 2020. Applicants must live in Phoenix, meet income requirements, demonstrate housing instability and experience financial hardship due to COVID-19.