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Here's how to apply for rent, utility assistance in Spokane and who qualifies

Rental assistance is in high demand but available to those in need, and the city is encouraging landlords and tenants to apply now.

SPOKANE, Wash. — The City of Spokane received more than $15 million to bolster its rental assistance program funds after the city council voted unanimously to accept two grants in November.

One grant, which totals $10,540,405, came from the Washington State Department of Commerce's Treasury Rent Assistance Program 2.0. The other grant is from the United States Department of Treasury's Treasury Emergency Rental Assistance Program 2 (ERA) and totals $5,297,865.

As of Nov. 30, nearly 1,000 households have received assistance from the city of Spokane, totaling nearly $9.3 million in rent and utility assistance. An average of seven months of assistance was provided to Spokane households, according to the city's website.

“In the past month, we’ve gotten a couple tenants caught up and others have since applied,” said Bill Varner, a Spokane landlord.

Rental assistance is in high demand but available to those in need, and the city is encouraging landlords and tenants to apply for assistance now.

“We need landlords and tenants working together to avoid eviction,” said Kelsey Martin, a city employee. “City residents are receiving critical funding to stay in their homes.”

Here's everything you need to know about rental assistance in Spokane.

Who qualifies for rental assistance in Spokane?

According to the city's website, applicants must meet all of the following criteria to be eligible for assistance:

  • Someone in the household has qualified for unemployment or experienced a reduction in income, incurred significant costs, or experienced financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • You have current housing instability or risk of housing instability, which may include unpaid rental fees or anticipation of inability to pay future rent
  • Your household income is at or below 80% of the Area Median Income. Your AMI depends on how many people live in your household; see the table here.
  • Your household resides within the City of Spokane boundaries
  • You must be 18 years of age or legally emancipated

Note: You do not have to be a United States citizen to receive rental assistance.

The following documents will be used to verify the above eligibility will be required:  

  • Proof of income (paystubs, W-2s or other wage statements, 2020 tax filings, or bank statements demonstrating regular income) 
  • Proof of a current lease or documentation of residence showing evidence that establishes a pattern of paying rent
  • Proof of past due rent or utility notice, or eviction notice

The city will give priority to those who are at or below 50% of the area median income and those who are unemployed or have been unemployed for 90 days prior to the application date.

Where does the money come from?

The money comes from the Washington State Department of Commerce's Treasury Rent Assistance Program 2.0 and the United States Department of Treasury's Treasury Emergency Rental Assistance Program 2 (ERA). Spokane received two grants, one from each program, after the city council voted to accept the funds in early November 2021.

Spokane was the first city in Washington to give out all of the initial funds received from the U.S. Treasury, totaling $6.1 million.

In total, $9.3 million has been distributed in rental assistance during the first six months of the program.

How do I apply for assistance?

If you have internet access, you can apply for assistance using the online application process.

If you do not have Internet access, LiveStories has partnered with community resources to assist those without access to the internet. Any of the city's partners can be reached via telephone or in-person to assist those in need of rental assistance:

  • Carl Maxey Center
  • The Zone/Northeast Community Center
  • Latinos en Spokane
  • World Relief
  • Northwest Mediation Center
  • Family Promise of Spokane offers an application portal for households with minor children
  • SNAP handles applications for Spokane County residents

If you have questions, email at FORWARD-support@livestories.com or call 1-855-582-3973 for assistance.

How much will I receive?

Eligible renters may receive up to 15 months total assistance for unpaid past due rent and utilities incurred after March 13, 2020. An average of seven months of assistance has been provided to landlords or tenants during the program.

Landlords have received an average of $5,833 in payment. 36% of households served in Spokane are Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC), according to the city. 85% of households are at or below 50% of the area median income.

How will I receive the funds once my application is approved?

All rental and utility assistance funds will be sent directly to landlords or service providers. The city will provide you with documentation about payments made on your behalf.