Kitsap County this week launched the largest-ever eviction prevention program, funded by approximately $18 million from several different state and federal funding sources, providing financial support to low-income individuals and households who may be behind on rent and utilities.
“Helping individuals and families maintain their housing, and avoid the potential devastation of evictions, is the number one thing we can do to support our entire community on the path to recovery,” said Commissioner Rob Gelder, chair of the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners.
In order to make it easy for tenants to apply for funding, Kitsap County has rolled all of this funding into a single new program - the Kitsap Eviction Prevention Assistance program (KEPA) - so that eligible households do not have to sort through different requirements and applications for the different funding sources. Instead, there is a single Pre-Application that determines eligibility for all programs. Either tenants or landlords may initiate the Pre-Application.
“We hope to make this program as easy to access as possible for eligible tenants who are behind on rent,” noted Kirsten Jewel, Kitsap County Department of Human Services Housing and Homelessness Division manager. “The goals of the program are threefold: to benefit tenants so they can get caught up on rent and utilities, to help landlords who can collect past due rent and pay their bills, and to support the community so that we can avoid a tsunami of evictions due to tenants’ inability to pay rent once the eviction moratorium is lifted.”
Eligible households can apply for past-due rent, current rent, and up to two months of future rent, which will be paid directly to the landlord. In addition, program funds may be used for tenants' past-due utilities charges, paid directly to utility companies.
To be eligible, households must have a total income of 50% or less of area median income and experienced a financial impact due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A chart showing these income amounts by household size is available on the program website. This assistance is only for renters and landlords. Homeowners are not eligible to apply unless they are the landlord.
Tenants who aren't sure whether they qualify can still submit the Pre-Application and may be referred to other programs for support if they don't qualify for this eviction prevention or utility assistance.
Kitsap County has contracted with Kitsap Community Resources to be the primary distribution agency. This means most tenants and landlords will be working with them directly. Kitsap County also contracted with Housing Kitsap and the Bremerton Housing Authority to provide eviction prevention funding to their existing tenants.
The Coffee Oasis will be accepting applications from youth and young adults (up to 24 years old) who may also submit an application through Kitsap Community Resources. The program is set up so there is “no wrong door” and applications will be routed to the appropriate agency.
In addition, Kitsap County contracted with six outreach partner organizations that will work directly with historically under-served minority populations disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. These partners will provide outreach, education, and application assistance to the populations they serve and include Kitsap Immigrant Assistance Center, Mt. Zion Church, Gather Together Grow Together, Surviving Change, Foundation for Homeless and Poverty Management, and House of Refuge/Hope 360.
Information about the program, including the Pre-Application, is available at http://kcowa.us/kepa.
The Pre-Application is also available in Spanish.
Informational flyers are available to print and share: