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Thousands of Missourians receive rent and utility assistance, millions of dollars are still available

Published: Sep. 3, 2021 at 5:04 AM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Springfield charities report their lines are busy with residents requesting rent and utility assistance.

But millions of dollars are still available for Missourians.

“We are literally full-on appointments every day,” said Family Resource Specialist with OACAC Bill Bell. “We take phone calls on Fridays to schedule our appointments for the following week. Our phone lines on Fridays, you can’t make an outgoing phone call. If we’re trying to contact a client and need some additional paperwork, it’s almost impossible because all the incoming calls have our phone lines barraged.”

When Congress passed a stimulus package in Dec. 2020, $25 billion was allocated to provide rent and utility assistance to those who COVID-19 financially impacted.

States, counties, and municipalities could apply for assistance through the National Treasury. Local governments serving a population of at least 200,000, could elect to receive aid directly from Treasury. The City of Springfield did not meet that threshold, but Greene County did.

Greene County received nearly $8.7 million to assist residents with rent and utility debts. Once the county received the funds, the commission’s office began working with six charities to help those who qualify.

In order to receive the aid, applicants have to meet the following requirements:

  1. Qualifies for unemployment or has experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19
  2. Demonstrates a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability
  3. Has a household income at or below 80 percent of the area median income.

Since the program began in February, nearly $4.1 million has been paid toward back rent and utility payments. More than half of those funds are still available for those who qualify.

In May, Greene County was awarded an additional $2,774,444.76 to offer assistance to residents. But with these funds, an applicant needed to prove that they suffered a loss of income during the pandemic instead of losing income as a direct result of the pandemic.

Greene County residents can fill out a four-page application through OACAC, The Salvation Army, Consumer Credit Counseling, Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri, or Community Partnership of the Ozarks. If the funds are unused by December 2022 the remaining money will be returned to the National Treasury.

“Don’t be hesitant,” said Bell “In most cases, landlords are even prompting their tenants to come in. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. We’re not giving you a handout or giving you a hand up.”

The state of Missouri was also issued money to assist with rent and utility assistance. The State Assistance Housing Relief (SAFHR) program provides aid to those who were financially impacted during the pandemic. $45.2 million has been awarded of the $324 million the state has received to cover unpaid rent and utility bills. This will cover up to 12 months of rent and utility payments dating back to April of 2020 and three months forward payments.

Landlords and renters can apply for SAFHR funds through the Missouri Housing Development Commission website. The application is 18 pages long, and processing can take up to 10 business days.

Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri and OACAC are offering assistance with the county and SAFHR application.

For SAFHR application click here

For Greene County Emergency Rental Assistance information click here

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