Clark County might see a $44 million boost to narrowly tailored rental assistance programs
After the end of a broad-based, federally funded rental assistance program used to anchor renters during a historic rent hike following the COVID-19 pandemic, leaders want to invest $44 million from the state’s general fund into two Clark County rental assistance programs that would help elderly people, those with disabilities and people facing an unanticipated emergency.
If passed, AB398, sponsored by the Assembly Committee on Ways and Means, would allocate $22 million to Clark County on June 1 and then would repeat the next fiscal year.
Clark County estimates 15 percent of the 50,000 households facing eviction this year would qualify for the programs.
The Clark County Cares Housing Assistance program (CHAP) received a federal allocation of $375 million used to directly pay rent to landlords on behalf of people struggling to pay. But the pandemic-era program sunsetted earlier this year and was replaced with programs with much narrower eligibility criteria.
To qualify under the fixed-income CHAP, applicants must meet all of the following requirements: at least one person in the household lives on a fixed income, the tenant experienced an increase in rent within 12 months of applying and the tenant received an eviction notice for nonpayment of rent. Tenants who earn more than 50 percent of the average median income in Clark County, or $32,100 a year, do not qualify.
The other rental assistance program Clark County is focusing on is the eviction CHAP. To qualify, tenants must be served an eviction notice for nonpayment of rent, have an answer from the court, must have a financial change within 60 days of applying and must have proof of 12 months of previous rent paid. Under this program, there is an income cap of 60 percent of the average median income in Clark County, or roughly $38,500 a year.
When Assemblyman Gregory Hafen II (R-Pahrump) asked why the focus was only on Clark County, proponents of the bill said 85 percent of requests for rental assistance in Nevada have come from Clark County. According to The Washington Post, since 2019, rent in Clark County has risen nearly 29 percent, while Nye County saw a 4 percent increase, Elko County saw an 11 percent increase and Washoe County saw a 16 percent increase.
The policy would require the Clark County manager to submit a report to lawmakers each year that details how the money was appropriated. Should any funds remain by the end of the fiscal year, on June 30, they must be returned to the state’s general budget fund.