Rental assistance program reports slower than expected disbursements
Clark County’s CARES Housing Assistance Program (CHAP) has helped another 1,500 households pay rent and other bills in the past month, although it is falling short of the pace program administrators had projected in late March.
Between July of last year and April, CHAP assisted more than 24,000 households with rent, mortgage payments (when available) or utility bill assistance, distributing more than $97 million, county officials told The Nevada Independent on Monday. A month ago, when Gov. Steve Sisolak announced an extension of the eviction moratorium, county officials said the program had helped 22,500 households.
Assistant County Manager Kevin Schiller said in a March 30 press conference that CHAP would “anticipate, on a weekly basis, processing upwards of about 2,300 applications a week for approval, so that's the number we're shooting with in terms of those weekly averages." At that pace, the program should have approved about 9,200 applications in four weeks.
County officials said the new documentation requirement for applicants has slowed down the program's application processing more than expected. CHAP is looking to hire additional staff to process assistance applications this month to "significantly increase the number of applications being processed," the statement read.
There are 9,000 applications for rental assistance pending, which is far fewer than the 23,500 pending applications the county reported a month ago. Officials say the decrease is because of changes in the program, which no longer provides mortgage assistance. The program also made changes to its eligibility requirements including lower household income limits and requiring additional documentation.
“In March, about 23,000 applicants were notified of changes to the assistance program, and advised that they needed to provide additional documentation if they wanted their application to move forward,” county spokesman Dan Kulin said in a statement on Monday. “Among those who have decided not to continue, it is possible the changes to the program made them no longer eligible for the housing assistance.”
The 9,000 eligible households in the queue have provided the additional required documentation and are being processed in the order they were originally received, Kulin said. The program has received a combined $161 million from federal and state allocations — enough to help 40,000 more households.
Legislators have said they are working on crafting a bill that would help ensure all the federal assistance goes to good use. Asked about the processing pace, Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro (D-Las Vegas) said she hadn’t yet seen the numbers.
“I think everyone's doing everything they can to help with rental assistance move along because we don't want to have a situation where people are being evicted — and in large numbers,” she told The Nevada Independent on Monday. “I think everybody remains committed to making sure we can get that process moving and keep people in their homes as much as possible.”