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160 Linn County residents approved for emergency rental assistance are getting help from the county after program ran out of money

Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 6:24 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -160 families in Linn County approved for rental assistance through an emergency fund, were later denied when the program ran out of money. The county said it saw heaver demand than anticipated.

Linn County quickly distributed it’s $5.3 Million dollars from the federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program, helping 1,500 families stay in their homes. But the need was even greater than that.

”There were people who were approved for funding but then the funding dried up,” Ben Rogers said, a Linn County Supervisor.

One of the families that was denied sent us an email they received from HACAP to inform them that money had run out.

“Even though you were originally approved, the program no longer has funding and you will not receive any assistance from the Linn County Emergency Rent Assistance Program,” the email said.

HACAP, in partnership with the county, quickly took action.

“I can’t imagine what it’s like to be approved and then find out the dollars have just run out so this will help really shore up that gap for people for up to two months of back rent or future rent to a landlord,” Rogers explained.

The Board of Supervisors approved $175,000 from the county’s general assistance fund on Wednesday, to help fulfill the commitment to the 160 families needing to pay rent.

”The benefit the taxpayers see is that they’re accessing less public services and they’re stabilized in their homes,” Rogers said.

Meanwhile the state received from the federal government $344 Million for the same program and has only handed out $28 Million of it, just over 8%. Leaders told us there haven’t been enough people applying at the state level.

”We feel that we are meeting demand through the program and we’re getting the funds out to meet that demand we just have additional dollars available,” Ashley Jared explained, Communication Director at the Iowa Finance Authority.

The rules wouldn’t let people in Linn County apply to the state, even with the county dollars depleted. But as of Friday, the rules changed. Now, people in Linn County can apply for rental assistance that’s past due through the state program.

”We’re trying to get the word out to especially Linn County residents that they can apply to the state program again,” Jared said.

People needing help in Linn County can also contact Waypoint.

Rogers told us keeping people stable in their homes, is paramount.

“As we see the number of homeless on the streets increase to record numbers in this community, with a large percentage being children, having any more people become homeless because they’re unable to afford back rent or future rent is just completely unacceptable,” he said.

Residents needing to request rental assistance through the state can do so here.

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