‘We worked so hard’: Spokane Valley family takes advantage of new rental assistance program

SPOKANE CO., Wash. — The pandemic is putting a lot of stress on people. For those behind on rent because of COVID-19, there’s a new way to get help.

“It just keeps piling up and piling up and piling up,” said Melissa Hall, a Spokane Valley resident.

The bills keep coming for Hall and her family. It’s been tough paying them, especially since she’s a stay-at-home mom and her fiance was out of work for weeks.

The family had to quarantine several times.

“He missed out on a lot of pay. We were quarantined for another week, another week,” she said. “There’s just so much time missed from work because of this virus.”

It wasn’t because Hall’s family contracted the virus. It was because they were in close contact with it. Her fiance, Chris, had to keep letting work know, and he couldn’t work,

Missing work means no income, and no income means they can’t pay rent. They’ve been behind on rent for months now. Hall says hey try to pay what they can, but they still owe thousands of dollars to their landlord.

She tells 4 News Now they worked with the landlord and told them the situation.

“It’s incredibly stressful. There are nights where we just don’t know what’s going to happen,” Hall said.

Soon, though, they’ll be a little less stressed thanks to SNAP’s new rental assistance program. The organization is helping pay some of Hall’s rent, as well as anyone who is in need of help. It’s something that may be tough for people to ask for.

“I know it’s been kind of a blow to our pride because we’ve worked for everything we have. We worked so hard,” Hall said.

The organization received a $3 million grant to help people out with rent.

RELATED: SNAP launches eviction rent assistance for unemployed, struggling residents

Compared to other assistance programs, Carol Weltz, the director of community action with SNAP, says this new program can help even more people.

“We know there are a lot of people who are unable to pay rent right now. It’s an interesting time, because this isn’t because anyone’s done anything wrong, right? This is just something that happened to us as a whole and we’ve seen a lot of people who never needed help before and they don’t know what to do,” she said.

There are qualifications people need to meet to be approved for the money.

  • Applicants must be a resident of Spokane County
  • They should have at least one month of unpaid rent or partially paid rent since March 1, 2020
  • The household income needs to be at or below 80 percent of the area median income

Along with those qualifications, they can help people who have been evicted in the last seven years among other things.

“We know a lot of people who still aren’t back to work and there is going to be a lasting effect into the next year,” Weltz said. “[We’re] just trying to get people squared up so they can get their feet back on the ground again.”

It’s so families, like Hall’s, can continue to have a roof over their heads.

“It’s ok to ask for help because the only way we’re going to make it through this is together,” Hall said.

Since the organization launched the program in October, Weltz said they had a waiting list of about 1,300 people. The online portal just launched last week.

There are several ways to reach out for help with the organization on rental assistance. It can be done by email, phone or online. To learn more about the qualifications and how to apply, click here.

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